After Helmut Marko’s public U-Turn on Sergio Perez’s future, Ralf Schumacher says retaining a driver who is “so far away from his teammate” is not a good long-term plan for Red Bull.
Despite Marko declaring as Formula 1 entered its summer break that all Perez needs to do to hold onto his Red Bull seat is finish P2 behind Max Verstappen in the championship, he appears to have had a change of heart since.
Revealing he had a sit-down with Perez’s main rival Daniel Ricciardo when the Aussie visited Austria on his holiday, Marko now says Perez is not guaranteed a 2024 drive despite his contract.
Helmut Marko cast doubt on Sergio Perez’s Red Bull future
“Nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1, it just doesn’t exist,” the Red Bull motorsport advisor told Kleine Zeitung.
“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.”
Schumacher agrees that runner-up in the championship is not enough to secure Perez’s future given his massive deficit to Verstappen on the track and in the standings where he trails by 125 points.
“A driver who is so far away from his teammate is not sustainable in the long run – especially if he doesn’t even use the car’s potential and makes too many mistakes,” he told Sky Deutschland.
But while Marko appears ready to throw in the towel when it comes to Perez, Red Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan has given the Mexican driver his backing and insists Red Bull “will support him”.
“The confidence between drivers will ebb and flow. You see it in other teams and you’ll see it in our one and don’t forget that Checo won in Azerbaijan, didn’t he?” he told the media, including PlanetF1.com.
“He stuck it on pole in Miami and then the confidence flowed to Max in the race. So it will bounce between the two.
“Checo has never been down in the dumps after a race. He might reflect upon it, thinking it wasn’t his best race. That’s within his right to do so.
“But he comes back the following race weekend, he’s confident, he’s chirpy and he’s a wonderful element within our team and we will support him with everything we’ve got.”
Pressed as to whether it’s a car issue and that Perez may want something different from the RB19 to Verstappen, he replied: “Drivers, in my experience, always want subtle changes or subtle differences across the garage and that’s nothing unusual.
“He’s quite close to Max with this car in terms of his set-up preferences and his choices. It makes it a little bit easier going forward with this one. His approach to it is very similar to Max, the differences are so small and with this car, I’d say it’s perhaps less than 2021 car.
“So no, in answer to your question, is it broadly different? No, they’re very close.”