The one driver Sergio Perez should be worried about – and it’s not Daniel Ricciardo

Jamie Woodhouse
Unhappy Sergio Perez walks past a Ferrari.

Sergio Perez continues to deal with rumours his F1 days are numbered.

Formula 1 analyst Peter Windsor believes Sergio Perez should be more concerned about losing his Red Bull seat to Alex Albon than Daniel Ricciardo.

With Ricciardo having returned to the F1 2023 grid as an AlphaTauri driver, on loan from their parent team Red Bull, he has done so with the clear mindset of pursuing a return to the main Red Bull team.

If he were ultimately to be successful in that mission, then it would be Perez’s Red Bull seat which he would take.

Sergio Perez told Alex Albon the bigger threat

The F1 2023 campaign has been a very difficult one so far for Perez, Windsor noting that the Mexican’s title challenge “collapsed” effectively as soon as he set sights on one, having shared two wins apiece with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen to start the season.

Perez now is 110 points behind his Championship-leading team-mate, with only two podium finishes in his last five races at the wheel of the RB19, which in Verstappen’s hands, is untouchable for the rest in race trim.

But, Windsor played down the threat which Ricciardo poses to Perez, and instead feels Williams driver Albon should be of greater concern for Perez.

On top of Albon’s Thai nationality, the Red Bull company half-owned by the Yoovidhya from the nation, Albon’s performances have been drawing praise from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and team principal Christian Horner.

Albon scored his best result as a Williams driver at the 2023 Canadian GP, finishing P7, and is a driver with past, albeit ultimately unsuccessful experience as a Red Bull driver and team-mate to Verstappen, having struggled in his season-and-a-half from 2019-20.

“If I was Perez I would be more worried about Alex Albon potentially coming back to Red Bull with his connections in Thailand and going as well as he is,” said Windsor on a YouTube livestream.

“Secondly, Ricciardo for sure is going to shunt less and do a better job in qualifying, but he’s only going to be the driver that we last saw at McLaren which is a driver, okay, very very polished these days, but not as quick as Lando [Norris] and obviously not as quick as Oscar [Piastri] either.”

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Amidst the growing speculation over Perez’s Red Bull future, Marko has repeatedly stated that Perez is safe in his seat for the remainder of the F1 2023 season as Red Bull target their first one-two finish in the Drivers’ standings, with Perez currently holding that P2 spot.

Verstappen meanwhile is long gone out front and firmly on his way to a third World Championship in succession, so Windsor questions whether Red Bull would actually want a driver in that second seat who could potentially make life more difficult for Verstappen?

Referring to Perez’s drive to P3 in Hungary from his P9 grid slot, Windsor said: “Obviously if he’d have qualified well he would have been second in that race, there’s no doubt about that.

“I think other drivers possibly could have been second in that race, but then again, do Red Bull want that? I’m sure what happened this weekend with Sergio Perez is basically what Red Bull are kind of comfortable with with that second car.

“Max free and easy out there dominating, doing everything perfectly in an imperfect car in qualifying.”

Perez does have some security in the fact that he is under Red Bull contract for F1 2024, but as Nyck de Vries recently found out, that does not always stop Red Bull seeing value in taring up a driver contract before it expires.

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