Red Bull should not rock Max Verstappen’s boat by giving him a new teammate, after all even Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso “wouldn’t beat Max” in the second Red Bull.
Red Bull’s 2024 driver line-up, or best to say Sergio Perez’s seat at the team, has been a rumbling conversation for most of this season.
While the Mexican driver was in the hunt for the championship title in the early part of the campaign, a run of five qualifying sessions outside of the top ten put paid to that.
Felipe Massa warns Red Bull against upsetting Max Verstappen
As Perez struggled to overcome his qualifying hoodoos, Verstappen went on a charge of 10 successive race wins which opened the door for him to wrap up the World titles at Qatar’s Sprint.
His numbers for this season include 17 wins and 19 podiums in 20 Grands Prix. Perez is two and eight.
This has led to near-constant speculation that his days at Red Bull are numbered, fuel added to that fire by Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko’s criticism of the driver.
But with two races remaining this season, Red Bull are adamant Perez will be in the car at the 2024 season-opening race in Bahrain.
Former F1 driver Felipe Massa reckons it’s the right call, after all upsetting Verstappen could result in the triple World Champion’s “deterioration”.
And that’s something that may not be worth testing given even Hamilton and Alonso “wouldn’t beat” Verstappen, even if they are closer than Perez.
“As long as Max is happy and the team wins both the Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship, I think it would be wise to leave things as they are now,” the Brazilian told FORMULA 1 Magazine.
“Max is visibly feeling good and wins almost every race. For him, any change would mean a deterioration.
“What Max is showing this season is incredibly good, of an unprecedented level.
“Even if you put Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso in Red Bull’s other car, I’m not sure much would change. Maybe a little bit, but believe me, they wouldn’t beat Max either.”
But like many Formula 1 fans, the 11-time Grand Prix winner would like to see Verstappen’s teammate – whoever that may be – give the Dutchman a bit more of a challenge.
“But let’s be honest,” he added, “we would rather see the championship decided in the last corner or on the last lap, like in 2021 in Abu Dhabi.
“If you reason like this, you would wish the best driver on the grid after Max to have the seat of Perez at Red Bull.”
That could yet happen in 2025, but for next season it will be Perez in the car insists Horner.
“I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo will be our driver next year,” Horner told the media in Brazil, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“Now, if he was injured or something like that, there are circumstances beyond our control. But the clear plan and therefore the clear intention is that he will continue.
“We’re planning to continue. We have announced the AlphaTauri drivers, we have our Red Bull Racing drivers. That is how we intend to go racing in 2024.”