Leading Formula 1 correspondent Lawrence Barretto says Daniel Ricciardo is the driver Red Bull have in mind should they need to replace Sergio Perez following F1 2024, or even mid-season.
It seemed as though Perez was starting to get his F1 2023 season back on the right path after an alarming mid-season wobble, though the Singapore and Japan rounds have brought about fresh struggles for the Red Bull racer.
After colliding with Alex Albon in Singapore, Perez then wiped out Kevin Magnussen on the following weekend at Suzuka, both of those incidents resulting in five-second time penalties, while he picked up the same punishment for also overtaking behind the Safety Car as he entered the pits during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Red Bull has alternative in Daniel Ricciardo
Despite these latest wobbles, Perez’s seat is thought to be safe for the start of next season, though if he does not rebound, then Ricciardo, who has been confirmed alongside Yuki Tsunoda at junior team AlphaTauri for F1 2024, is primed to take Perez’s spot, perhaps even before the season and Perez’s contract is over.
“Sergio Perez is under pressure at Red Bull, having scored only a little over half the number of points his team-mate Max Verstappen has mustered, the Mexican trailing by 177 points despite having what is comfortably the best car in the field,” Barretto wrote in a piece for the Formula 1 website.
“Sources suggest Ricciardo would be Red Bull’s favoured driver to replace Perez if required either mid-season or at the end of 2024 campaign.”
If Ricicardo were to get the nod to take Perez’s seat, then that would be great news for Ricciardo’s current stand-in Liam Lawson, who Barretto says in such a case, would be “drafted in to replace the Australian at AlphaTauri”.
Lawson has impressed since replacing Ricciardo after the Aussie suffered a broken hand in a Dutch GP practice crash, scoring his first Formula 1 points with a P9 finish in Singapore, leading to calls for him to earn a full-time seat with Red Bull’s junior squad for F1 2024.
With that having not come to pass, rumours flared up that Lawson could replace the struggling Logan Sargeant at Williams, a prospect played down by Lawson and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Barretto claims it remains a possibility, though Red Bull certainly have Lawson in their driver plans for 2025, should there be no mid-F1 2024 movement on the Perez front.
“With this is mind, Red Bull are keen to keep hold of Lawson,” Barretto continued. “It is possible they could loan him out for a year, should Williams want him to replace Logan Sargeant.
“The two teams have collaborated before, with Alex Albon joining the British outfit, having been under contract at Red Bull as reserve.
“However, any such deal for Lawson would almost certainly only be for a year, with Red Bull understood to be very keen to have Lawson racing one of their four cars in 2025 – and that is likely to be unappealing to Williams.”
Ricciardo is set to take to the Red Bull simulator in the coming days to determine whether he is fit to return for next weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, but with Horner more looking towards Austin in a couple of weeks’ time, Lawson may well get another outing in the AlphaTauri AT04 at Qatar’s Lusail International Circuit.