Former ‘wingman’ proposed as ideal ‘number two’ driver for Max Verstappen

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen with the number '1' board. Belgium July 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen with the number '1' board. Belgium July 2023

Le Mans class winner Richard Bradley believes former Mercedes racer Valtteri Bottas would give Red Bull exactly what they want from a number two driver alongside Max Verstappen.

Red Bull have consistently assured the driver currently filling that position, Sergio Perez, over his short-term future, confirming that the Mexican racer will continue into F1 2024, the final year of his contract, to push for a spot in the 2025 line-up.

That being said, his inconsistent form, plus the gulf in performance to team-mate and runaway Championship leader Verstappen which has re-emerged, has sparked speculation regarding Perez’s place at Red Bull for next season.

Valtteri Bottas to Red Bull gets Richard Bradley’s vote

While appearing on the On Track GP podcast, Bradley, an LMP2 class winner at Le Mans in 2015, would discuss potential options to fill the “number two” position alongside Verstappen, and gave the nod to Bottas as a proven option.

The Finn raced alongside seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton between 2017-2021 as Mercedes team-mates during the Brackley squad’s era of dominance, Bottas a driver at the time hailed by Hamilton as the best F1 team-mate he’d had.

While Bottas never mounted a title challenge against Hamilton, he did more than enough to sustain Mercedes’ streak of Constructors’ title wins in that period and did deliver a collection of standout performances, winning 10 grands prix overall.

Now racing for midfield strugglers Alfa Romeo, Bradley reckons Bottas would be a solid option for the second Red Bull seat.

“I would say yes to Bottas, because we’ve seen him in that effectively, he didn’t want to be there, but number two role with Mercedes,” said Bradley.

“And he was more than good enough on his day to give Lewis a run for his money and kept him on his toes. And this was when Lewis was in very good form.

“He made every single Q3 that he did for Mercedes.

“And as I said before, that’s what you want from your number two driver. Of course, you want them to think that they can beat the number one, because that pushes them, and Bottas was able to do that in situations. You want someone who is constantly there.” recommends

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Yuki Tsunoda would be ‘bit of a dynamite’ in Red Bull seat

A more realistic option perhaps to partner Verstappen at Red Bull down the line would be Yuki Tsunoda, currently contesting his third season with their junior squad AlphaTauri.

But, while Bradley reckons Tsunoda would show more outright speed than Perez, he believes Red Bull would need to be prepared for more expensive repair bills if they decided to swap Perez out for the Japanese racer.

“I think that Yuki would be faster, but I think he would crash more,” Bradley predicted, “I don’t think he is as reliable.

“Not that Perez has been the most reliable with his qualifying form, but I think that Yuki would be a bit of a dynamite in that seat.”

Perez sits P2 in the current Drivers’ Championship but has fallen 125 points behind his dominant team-mate Verstappen who is now marching towards a third World title in as many seasons.

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