Red Bull driver chief Helmut Marko says a decision will not be made on their drivers for 2022 until the summer break.
For 2021, the Austrian outfit made a rare move to recruit from outside of their own programme, bringing in Sunday specialist Sergio Perez.
The Mexican has continued to live up to that tag on race day, most recently delivering a solid performance in Monaco to cross the line P4. But like Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon before him, qualifying remains an issue.
“Let’s start with the positive, that’s his performances in the race. They are very good, sometimes he is at the level of Max [Verstappen],” Marko told Formel1.de.
“He proved that in Monte Carlo when we opted for the overcut. There were then three or four laps in which he drove the fastest laps of everyone on very old tyres. So the race pace is there.
“The area where he is still short is in qualifying. We need to see an improvement there.”
With Red Bull needing Perez to become the complete package, he is in a race against time to prove to the team he deserves a contract extension beyond 2021.
This, though, is not a decision Red Bull will take just yet – in fact it will not cross their minds until the summer break in August.
“We don’t think about that until the summer at the earliest,” Marko confirmed.
Red Bull do not feel the need to rush as they do not have to chase in the driver market – instead, Marko said those available will all come to Red Bull as their first point of call.
“In the driver market we are a very sought-after partner. I don’t think drivers start negotiations or make a deal with another team until they’ve tried to make a deal with us,” said the 78-year-old Austrian.
“We are now fully focused on the World Championship and we see no problem as to who will be Max’s team-mate next year. It’s definitely going to be a competitive driver, but we’ve got time.”
Since being demoted by Red Bull during the 2019 summer break, Gasly has gone from strength to strength at AlphaTauri, even winning the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.
But that axe from Red Bull never did sit well with the Frenchman, and since then his relations with the team have appeared strained despite remaining a part of their programme. The fact he was quickly overlooked for a 2021 return to the team did not help matters.
However, Marko said Gasly is an option and that his contract has two more years to run, allowing him to be placed at AlphaTauri or Red Bull.
“If I’m right, Gasly’s contract will continue for another two years,” said Marko.
“It’s a contract that allows us to place him with both Red Bull and AlphaTauri. However, the same applies here – we are not yet thinking about our drivers for 2022. That’s what we do during the summer break and then we make our decisions.”