Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has sent a clear message to Sergio Perez ahead of the F1 season’s second half.
Sergio Perez’s seat at Red Bull appears to be in genuine jeopardy, should the Mexican driver fail to re-find the form that made him so formidable in the early stages of the 2023 F1 season.
Perez won two of the first four races of the season, but fell off the boil through the middle stages of the season to fall into the clutches of the chasing pack. While there’s no danger to Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship, Perez’s sporadic form has raised eyebrows at the team – particularly with strong drivers waiting in the wings.
Helmut Marko: Sergio Perez has to perform
Perez appeared to have the full backing of Red Bull heading into the F1 summer break, particularly with the Mexican driver finding some consistency in Belgium to come home second to Verstappen at Spa-Francorchamps – albeit a distant second, having been caught and overtaken by the Dutch driver during the race.
With Red Bull bringing Daniel Ricciardo back to the grid by placing the Australian at AlphaTauri in place of the underperforming Nyck de Vries, his appointment appears to be being used as a means to motivate Perez to pull the finger out and re-establish himself as capable support for Verstappen.
Red Bull motorsport advisor, speaking to Sky Germany, confirmed after second practice in the Netherlands that a Plan B has been put in place for Red Bull’s driver line-up.
“We are very happy with Ricciardo’s performance,” he said, shortly after Ricciardo was confirmed as heading off to hospital for a precautionary check on his left hand following a practice crash.
“I hope he didn’t hurt his hand. He is at the hospital for an X-ray.
“So we have Ricciardo. We have [Liam] Lawson (Red Bull reserve driver). You always have to have a Plan B as well.
“We want to do next year with Perez as well, but he needs to perform for that.
“The situation is that Perez has to perform. That means he has to improve his qualifying. Everything is clear for this year. As for next year, we will see.”
Helmut Marko confirms summer meeting with Daniel Ricciardo
Marko’s comments came shortly after the Austrian confirmed to Austrian publication Kleine Zeitung that Ricciardo had come to Graz for a meeting with the Red Bull senior, revealing that there are ‘performance-related’ situations that can be taken into consideration.
“Nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1, it just doesn’t exist,” Marko said.
“There are always performance-related situations somewhere that need to be discussed. We’ll take a look and discuss how to proceed in Zandvoort, then we’ll know more.
“We saw each other, that’s clear when he [Daniel] came to Graz. He has a very positive personality, a successful career, and incredible experience. His momentum and vigour caused a real jolt at AlphaTauri. That was a real boost of motivation.”