Sergio Perez performance clause uncovered, Red Bull chopping block hint – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez speaking into a microphone. Spa, Belgium. July 2023.

Sergio Perez speaks to the media.

Formula 1 may now be into its summer shutdown, but that does not mean things have gone quiet on the news front.

Sergio Perez goes into this break looking to take stock of a challenging part one to F1 2023, where he saw his title challenge against Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen crumble, but if his points deficit to Verstappen stays as it is or continues to grow, then this reportedly may have financial implications too.

Red Bull also seem to be readying a clear out in their driver ranks, while Ferrari are reportedly set to break the bank to keep one of their star names, so let us bring you up to speed with the key talking points from this day in the world of Formula 1.

Sergio Perez facing Red Bull pay cut?

Perez has managed to bring some stability back to his season in recent races, making the podium in three of his last four outings, while most recently in Belgium, he crossed the line P2, albeit 22 seconds behind Verstappen, to complete the one-two finish for Red Bull.

The gap between the pair in the Drivers’ standings has though now grown to 125 points, and according to a report from De Telegraaf, this activates a clause in Perez’s contract which gives Red Bull the option to downgrade his salary.

Read more: Sergio Perez pay-cut threat as Red Bull ‘special clause’ emerges – report

Red Bull considering axing their Formula 2 drivers

Perez serves as one of the recent examples of Red Bull looking outside of their driver programme to fill seats across their main team and AlphaTauri, with a Junior Team which produced the likes of multi-time champs Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel on something of a baron spell.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner then has teased a reprofiling of the Red Bull Junior Team, one which could spell trouble for their collection of F2 stars.

Appearing on the ESPN podcast, Horner said: “We have a lot of drivers in Formula 2 this year, I think that will be thinned out moving forward and perhaps a refocus on perhaps some of the lower formulas as well.”

Read more: Christian Horner hints at who could be next on Red Bull chopping block recommends

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Charles Leclerc reportedly signs bumper Ferrari contract extension

With Leclerc’s current Ferrari deal set to expire at the end of F1 2024, there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding his future with the team as the Scuderia continue to struggle in their mission to return to F1 title glory.

Ferrari have made the podium only three times across the opening 12 rounds of F1 2023, Leclerc responsible for all of those top-three finishes, and the Monegasque driver has been talked up as an option for the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin.

French publication Sportune though are reporting that Leclerc has agreed a Ferrari contract extension to 2026, with the option to stretch through to 2029, carrying a lucrative salary.

Read more – F1 rumours: Charles Leclerc agrees ‘record-breaking salary’ in new Ferrari deal

Fernando Alonso tells his story on Lewis Hamilton Hungary controversy

That 2007 campaign as McLaren team-mates was never short on controversy for Alonso and Hamilton, with one of the peaks arriving at that season’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Q3 incident, later dubbed ‘Pitlanegate’, landed Alonso with a grid penalty after the knock-on effect of him waiting in the McLaren pit box as he was frantically ushered to move cost Hamilton his shot at pole.

Alonso now though has, during a BBC interview, opened up on the drama from his perspective.

“The Hungary thing. No one heard my version, or the truth, or the facts,” he said. “I said that I never hold anyone, they [McLaren] just gave me old tyres when it was qualifying.”

Read more – Fernando Alonso: His untold story of the Lewis Hamilton controversy at Hungarian GP

Why Helmut Marko can be a ‘PR nightmare’ for Red Bull

These days in Formula 1 it can be very rare to find someone without a filter, but if you stumble across Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko, then you have found someone who is absolutely not afraid to speak their mind, no matter how much media training may come his way.

That then can be something of a headache for their team principal Horner.

“He’s a communication manager’s nightmare,” Horner suggested to ESPN. “When he goes rogue, then you guys [the media] only have to prod him and you’ll get a headline.”

Read more: Christian Horner labels Helmut Marko a ‘PR nightmare’ when he goes ‘rogue’

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