Sergio Perez admits pressure for his Red Bull seat isn’t only from Daniel Ricciardo

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull launch New York February 2023.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez stands with team reserve Daniel Ricciardo at the launch of the RB19. New York City February 2023.

Sergio Perez has refuted suggestions Daniel Ricciardo’s return has thrown his own future at Red Bull into doubt, after all the team can always “pick pretty any driver they want”.

Last year Red Bull announced a new two-year deal for Perez, one that will keep him at Red Bull until the end of the 2024 season.

However, further down the line, cracks appeared in his relationship with Max Verstappen when the Dutchman refused to yield a position to Perez at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

He implied it had something to do with an event from earlier in the season, a Dutch pundit claiming it related to Perez’s crash in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

While Red Bull downplayed the drama, F1 commentators suggested it could have far-reaching consequences as they questioned whether Perez would continue to be open to supporting his team-mate.

And then Red Bull announced Ricciardo would be returning to the team this season.

That, it has been suggested, changed the situation as Perez now has competition for the second Red Bull seat and any refusal to play the team game could cost him dearly.

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Both the driver and his Red Bull team bosses have denied Ricciardo’s waiting in the wings for the Red Bull seat, but that’s done little to quash the speculation.

Perez was again asked if Ricciardo’s arrival increased the pressure on his shoulders, he replied as per “No.

“When you are at Red Bull Racing, you’ve got to perform at your best. It doesn’t matter if Daniel is here or not. Red Bull can pick pretty any driver they want on the grid.”

The 33-year-old is in fact hoping to extend his Red Bull beyond 2024, keen to be around when Ford join the party two years later.

Asked if he wanted to be a part of the Ford programme, the American carmaker set to join forces with Red Bull to create their 2026 engine, he said: “There is so much time left that I don’t consider it.

“Right now, if you ask me, yes, I want to continue in this sport well beyond 2024, but it is a long time, many years.

“So I want to wait and see what happens, although it is very exciting and I would love to be a part of it.”

Third in last year’s championship with two race wins, Perez is hoping to build on his best-ever result in the standings when he lines up on the Bahrain grid in March for the season-opening grand prix.

“I want to maximise the potential of the car and fight for victory every weekend,” he added. “I’m working very hard to achieve it and that’s my main goal.”