Mika Hakkinen believes it is “highly unlikely” Sergio Perez will stay at Red Bull beyond the end of the upcoming 2024 season.
Perez’s deal is set to run out at the end of the season but many thought he was fortunate to remain in place after a disappointing 2023.
Hakkinen suggested Perez is important to Red Bull but if he continues to underdeliver, then it is hard to see how he stays on.
Mika Hakkinen doubts Sergio Perez Red Bull future
Having joined in 2021, Perez signed an extension in the 2022 season but heading into his fourth year with the team, there are questions as to whether he will be in Red Bull colours next year.
Daniel Ricciardo stands waiting in the wings should Red Bull make a swap and, having finished 290 points behind Max Verstappen in 2023, Perez faces a fight to keep hold of his seat.
“Usually one or the other is slower, in this case Perez is slower than Max. It has been pretty clear lately,” the two-time World Champion driver told Unibet.
“If the slower team-mate accepts the situation, is able to communicate well with media and the team, is able to develop the car, is motivated and can stay within three or four tenths of the fast one, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s an okay situation.
“But if the team-mate starts to complain, if he accuses the team of not giving him a good car, is not motivated and results go up and down. It’s not good for the team. That’s when the team needs to make changes.
“I know that having a Mexican driver is important for Red Bull. Mexico is a big market which has its effect on things.
“But ultimately, you’re there to race and bring good results and to develop the car faster. You can’t rely on one driver only. You need to have two drivers on a certain level in order to develop the car. Is Perez’s future at Red Bull? I think it’s highly unlikely.”
Perez has also been warned by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner that the team are not short of options.
“The area that he needs to focus on improving next year is going to be Saturdays,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“Making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max because we know he can race and he’s got great pace, but we need him to be starting further up the grid.
“Particularly if the grid is going to converge then we can’t afford to have a lot of cars between Max and Checo. The car has been very attractive for other drivers to want to be in so we’re not short of options.”