While Red Bull have consistently claimed that Sergio Perez will race for the team in 2024, Formula 1 reporter Lawrence Barretto argues that though this is the “most likely” scenario, it is far from certain as Daniel Ricciardo’s threat looms large.
Perez has managed to steady the ship that is his Red Bull F1 career in recent rounds, bouncing back from a wretched run to make the podium three times in the past four rounds.
Major damage has been done though, with the Mexican racer going from talking about a title challenge to now being 125 points behind team-mate and runaway Championship leader Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo could replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull for F1 2024
But while the results may have improved for Perez, his overall performance level versus Verstappen in the Red Bull RB19 remains alarming, with the latest round in Belgium displaying the gulf between the pair as Verstappen went from P6 on the grid to winning with a margin north of 22 seconds over Perez.
That being said, both Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko have said the final season of Perez’s current deal will be honoured, meaning he stays with the team for 2024, with the Mexican racer and Ricciardo, currently on loan at Red Bull’s junior team AlphaTauri, in the fight for a seat from 2025.
However, as Barretto took a look through the remaining puzzle pieces of the 2024 driver market yet to fall into place, he suggested Perez is very much driving for his future in the final 10 rounds of the current campaign to avoid being replaced by Ricciardo for next season.
“AlphaTauri are enduring their toughest season since a rebrand for 2020, with the Italian team languishing at the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship – and yet despite their struggles, seats at their operation are among the most sought after,” Barretto wrote in his piece for the Formula 1 website.
“With Laurent Mekies set to take over as team principal, having been sporting director at Ferrari, and Peter Bayer stepping in as CEO, a new era is dawning at Faenza.
“The team is expected to have a very close relationship with sister team Red Bull, which will likely see them take a significant amount of parts from the reigning World Champions (as permitted by the rules) and that in turn should make them a more competitive operation.
“It’s part of the reason why Daniel Ricciardo would have preferred to return to F1 with the team next season but instead seized the opportunity ahead of Hungary when they parted ways with Nyck de Vries.
“The Australian wants a return to Red Bull – but first he must sufficiently impress at AlphaTauri. The most likely scenario is that he excels at the Italian team, which sees him keep the seat for 2024 and puts him in a very strong position to replace Sergio Perez next to Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025.
“But if Perez struggles in the second half of the season and Ricciardo delivers, they could move him up next season.”
As for the other side of the AlphaTauri garage, Barretto claims that Ricciardo’s current team-mate Yuki Tsunoda is the “overwhelming favourite” to retain his drive for F1 2024, while Red Bull junior Liam Lawson, currently competing for the Super Formula title, is primed to take Ricciardo’s seat if he fails to impress or replaces Perez at Red Bull for next season.