F1 rumours: ‘There are already agreements about a separation between Perez and Red Bull’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez not happy in the Red Bull garage. Monaco May 2023

Sergio Perez not happy in the Red Bull garage. Monaco May 2023

Sergio Perez’s days at Red Bull are numbered, and Ralf Schumacher believes Helmut Marko’s “not warm-hearted way of dealing with Perez” is to blame for the driver’s slump.

Perez’s position at Red Bull has been tentative of late with the Mexican driver falling out of the championship race early in the season when he strung together five miserable qualifying sessions.

And with his teammate Max Verstappen going on a charge, that meant even when Perez was back inside the pole position shoot-out, momentum was – and remains to this day – firmly with the Dutchman.

‘Sergio Perez’s days at Red Bull are numbered’

Scoring 96 points since Miami, the first race in Verstappen’s nine-race winning streak, to the Dutchman’s 220, Perez trails his teammate by 139 points and is, as Marko and Christian Horner agree, out of the title fight.

But that’s all that they agree on as Horner has insisted Perez “will be our driver in 2024” while Marko says “nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1” and that there are “always performance-related situations somewhere that need to be discussed”.

And it’s the Red Bull motorsport advisor’s comments that Schumacher is leaning towards as fact.

“Sergio Perez once again made a mistake when he drove into the barriers at the entrance to the pits and this action also resulted in a penalty that cost him second place in the end,” the six-time grand prix winner wrote in his post-race Sky Deutschland column.

“I think his days at Red Bull are numbered.

“Dr. Helmut Marko is not exactly known for his warm-hearted way of dealing with Perez. I think that Perez as a guy can’t deal with that so well, that’s how I explain these serious mistakes.

“Perez looked very grumpy, disappointed, and also absent all weekend. I think that there were already agreements about a separation after the end of the season.”

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‘Lando Norris will be Verstappen’s new teammate’

Should Perez leave at the end of this season, Red Bull could either promote from within their junior ranks and choose between Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo, or even Dutch Grand Prix debutant Liam Lawson.

Schumacher was impressed with the latter’s first grand prix with Lawson finishing 13th after replacing Ricciardo on the Saturday morning after the Aussie was ruled out with a broken hand.

He, however, reckons Lawson is more of an option for AlphaTauri than Red Bull.

“Liam Lawson celebrated his debut in Formula 1,” he said. “He will be an option for AlphaTauri. Dr. Marko trusts him a lot, some people see it a little differently.

“His weekend was okay, he made the most of it. Incidentally, it is a sensation that a driver from the DTM has made it into Formula 1 again. That hasn’t happened for a long time.”

But instead of turning to their pool of drivers, Schumacher believes Red Bull could sign Lando Norris as Verstappen’s next teammate.

“I could imagine Lando Norris becoming Verstappen’s new teammate sooner. The two seem to be good friends,” he said.

“I assume that Verstappen will ultimately decide who will be his teammate. This is nothing unusual. That was already the case with Senna, my brother also had this right.

“When a driver like Verstappen contributes so much to the team’s success, I also think it’s good that you have your back as free as possible.”

Norris, though, does have a McLaren contract that runs through to the end of the 2025 season with McLaren making it clear several times that they won’t be granting him an early release.

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