Red Bull reveal ‘first option’ for F1 2025 seat and set deadline for decision

Michelle Foster
Helmut Marko speaking with Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez. Britain July 2023

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko speaking with Yuki Tsunoda and Sergio Perez

Linked to Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda, Helmut Marko says Sergio Perez remains Red Bull’s “first option” to partner Max Verstappen next season.

The team is hoping to have their full line-up resolved “before” the summer break.

‘We want to be clear about this before the summer break’

Despite last year’s slump, which saw Perez record just five podiums in the last 17 races while Max Verstappen won all but one of those Grands Prix, Red Bull decided to stick with Perez for the 2024 season.

While that initially seemed to be the right call despite the Mexican driver failing to capitalise on Verstappen’s DNF at the Australian Grand Prix where he was only P5, off the pace in Miami and even worse in Imola, questions are again being asked.

Former Bridgestone engineer Ernest Knoors believes Perez “cannot help Max in crucial races” while Christijan Albers called his “lack of speed” a “problem” for Red Bull.

He reckons it is even more of a problem now that Red Bull no longer have an easy run to the chequered flag with McLaren and Ferrari having closed the gap.

Marko, however, is adamant the 34-year-old remains Red Bull’s number one choice to partner Verstappen next season.

“Discussions are ongoing and Checo is still our first option,” Marko told Kleine Zeitung.

“We want to be clear about this before the summer break, even if we are certainly not putting any pressure on ourselves.”

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Helmut Marko reveals Yuki Tsunoda is ‘part of conversations’

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

He, however, isn’t the only driver in the running with Marko singling out RB driver Yuki Tsunoda.

The Japanese driver has risen to the challenge, and the potential Red Bull promotion, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, not only out-qualifying the Aussie but ahead of him by 15 points to five in the Drivers’ standings.

“Of course he is also part of conversations,” Marko said of Tsunoda. “In general, we have several options in his contract so that he can be committed for several years.”

Tsunoda told the media in Monaco, including PlanetF1.com, that while he’d like that Red Bull promotion, he’s also happy to stay at RB for a fifth season.

But they are by no means his only option for his long-term future with the Honda-backed driver namechecking Aston Martin, who will be powered by Honda in 2026.

“I think, obviously, especially when I’m in Red Bull, you want to always aim for Red Bull,” he said.

“But if they don’t want me or they’re not expecting me into the seat, yeah, if I’ve got an interesting offer that could be better than even VCARB or Red Bull, yeah, I’ll think about it.

“But I also have a big loyalty to Red Bull as without them I wouldn’t be here, and obviously Honda as well.

“And speaking of Honda, maybe Aston Martin, but you know, Aston also, they’re taken by two drivers.”

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