Helmut Marko appears to have done a U-Turn on Sergio Perez’s 2024 contract situation after meeting with Daniel Ricciardo during the summer break.
Under-fire after a string of qualifying blunders, Perez was back in form at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he not only returned to the pole position shoot-out but bagged a podium before adding another at Spa.
With his first back-to-back top-three results since Baku and Miami, he extended his lead over Fernando Alonso to 40 points in the race for second place in the championship.
Helmut Marko: Nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1
Marko said at the time that as long as he finishes P2 behind Max Verstappen, Perez is safe for next season with the Mexican driver having a signed contract.
However, his stance on that seems to have changed over the summer break with the Austrian telling Kleine Zeitung: “Nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1, it just doesn’t exist.
“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.”
It seems it was his summer break meet-up with Perez’s rival Ricciardo that may have changed the 80-year-old’s mind with the Aussie holidaying in Austria with his girlfriend, Heidi Berger.
“We saw each other, that’s clear when he comes to Graz,” said Marko. “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.”
Energy and motivation that Marko hopes Ricciardo will use to score points in his upgraded AT04 with AlphaTauri adding to their recent updates with a new rear wing endplate for the Dutch Grand Prix. The big changes, though, are still to come.
“There will be a major update at AlphaTauri and you will see whether the direction is right,” Marko explained. “We hope that will be the case and that it will soon be possible to score points.
“A driver like Ricciardo will of course help you in this situation enormously, he tells you exactly what is good and which updates are useless.”
But while the motorsport advisor is hoping for points from Ricciardo as AlphaTauri look to move away from the bottom of the table, for Perez he still expects P2 with Marko saying that’s been made easier by the fluctuations behind Red Bull.
“Our biggest advantage is that the pursuers are constantly changing, which automatically makes us appear stronger and the chances for Checo also increase,” he said.
“Our goal is to win the World Championship, we don’t really care about the time. We leave the calculations to others.”