Sergio Perez won’t be doing Max Verstappen any favours this season with Ralf Schumacher believing the driver will be “selfish” as he knows his time at Red Bull is running out.
Last season, following his Monaco Grand Prix victory, Red Bull announced Perez had signed a new two-year deal with the team, one that runs through to the end of the 2024 season.
But with tension between the team-mates bubbling over late in the season, Perez unhappy with Verstappen’s refusal to give him back a position at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, there have been suggestions he could be out even before then.
Fuel was added to that fire when Red Bull brought Daniel Ricciardo back into the fold with the Aussie the last of Verstappen’s team-mates before Perez to have won a grand prix.
But whether Perez sticks around until the end of his contract or not, Schumacher claims there are rumours doing the rounds that 2024 will definitely be the driver’s final year with Red Bull.
“It’s difficult, and from my point of view it’s clear that the Verstappen’s side wants a new team-mate,” the Sky Deutschland pundit said as per Speedweek. “I hear these rumours everywhere.”
And Schumacher isn’t the only one hearing this.
According to the German, Perez is well aware that his time at Red Bull is limited and as such so too are his chances of winning a World title.
That, the former F1 driver reckons, is inspiring Perez to go all out this season.
“I see it as a problem that Perez knows – his time at Red Bull Racing will expire. He’s fighting for his chance to play up front, to win, to have a say in the title.
“It is like this, the team-mate is always the biggest competitor. And who knows what possibilities there will be later. You can see from Lewis Hamilton how fast it goes.
“That’s why Sergio is now becoming more selfish and as far as selfishness goes, Max Verstappen can’t complain. Max does it very well.
“He’s rightly number one on the team, but he also clearly defines his territory. Being his team-mate is certainly not easy – I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be.”
Perez will line up on this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix grid six points behind Verstappen in what is fast becoming a Red Bull-only battle for the Drivers’ Championship title.
Schumacher has previously spoken of tension between the team-mates, the 47-year-old saying Red Bull have “options” in “Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo is still there and there are enough drivers on the market too.
“If there is a troubled relationship between Verstappen and Perez, then it would make sense to part ways with the Mexican. If you look closely, you can see that the team-mates don’t get along well.
“And if a team has two drivers who don’t harmonise with each other, then that’s a big disadvantage for the team in the end.”