Former F1 driver Christian Albers believes there is a “high chance” Sergio Perez won’t see out the 2024 season, opening the door for Liam Lawson to race for Red Bull’s junior team.
Perez is, at least for now, Max Verstappen’s 2024 Formula 1 team-mate with Red Bull adamant the Mexican driver did enough with his two 2023 Grand Prix wins and runner-up result in the championship to retain his seat.
Pundits, though, continue to question how long that will last.
Could Sergio Perez open the door for Liam Lawson?
Although Red Bull are sticking by the 33-year-old, it is fair to say Perez was no match for Verstappen last season with the Dutchman clinching 19 race wins to Perez’s two.
Their deficit in the championship was one of the largest in the modern Formula 1 era between a World Champion and his team-mate at 575 points to 285.
However, Perez’s late-season results were enough to beat Lewis Hamilton to the runner-up spot in the championship thus ticking the only criteria, according to the sport’s rumour mill, in the contract debate for Perez.
Already though, even before turning a wheel in 2024, his seat is speculated to be under threat.
According to former F1 driver turned pundit Albers, there is a “high chance” Perez won’t see out the upcoming championship as Red Bull open the door for last year’s super sub, Lawson, to gain a bit more F1 experience before a full-time drive in 2025.
Lawson replaced Ricciardo at AlphaTauri last year, filling in for the injured Aussie for five races and scoring a P9 at the Singapore Grand Prix. That at the time was the junior team’s best result of the season.
Despite his performances, Lawson lost out on a 2024 race seat with Red Bull opting to retain Perez as Verstappen’s team-mate while Ricciardo held onto the junior seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda.
But should Perez fail to close the gap to Verstappen this season, Albers predicts a promotion for Ricciardo followed by one for Lawson.
“Personally, I think it’s a shame that Liam Lawson doesn’t have a seat,” he told De Telegraaf.
“As a replacement for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, he did very well during five race weekends. I think Lawson has earned a chance, especially in a training team like AlphaTauri. Shame!
“Although it wouldn’t surprise me if that changes during the 2024 season.
“If Sergio Perez continues like this at Red Bull, I have a high chance that he will be replaced by Ricciardo, provided he performs well. And then the way is still clear for Lawson.
“Perez can be especially happy that he has signed a two-year contract extension in 2022.”