Key Christian Horner contract revelation puts Sergio Perez future back under scrutiny

Oliver Harden
Christian Horner and Sergio Perez in conversation at a table in the Montreal paddock

Christian Horner and Sergio Perez talk

Juan Pablo Montoya believes there is no guarantee that Sergio Perez will see out his new Red Bull contract after team principal Christian Horner revealed a key element of the deal.

Red Bull confirmed ahead of the recent Canadian Grand Prix that Perez had signed a new two-year contract to remain with the team until the end of the F1 2026 season.

Sergio Perez to leave Red Bull before end of new contract?

Additional reporting by Pablo Hidalgo

In the team’s announcement, Horner commented that “now is an important time to confirm our 2025 line-up” and stressed the importance of “continuity and stability” with Perez contributing to the Milton Keynes outfit’s success over recent years.

However, the Red Bull boss went on to tell Viaplay in Montreal that Perez’s contract is actually “for one more year”, describing the arrangement as a “one-plus-one” contract.

A one-plus-one deal often refers to a driver being secured only for the first season of a multi-year contract, with an option – usually belonging to the team – to extend for an additional season.

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Perez made an encouraging start to the F1 2024 season, playing his part in three one-two finishes for Red Bull in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan, but has struggled over recent weeks, failing to qualify in the top 10 for the third race in succession in Canada.

Appearing on W Radio Colombia, Montoya – who claimed seven victories in 94 starts for Williams and McLaren between 2001 and 2006 – has questioned whether Perez will see out the entirety of his new Red Bull deal.

But he feels Red Bull may struggle to replace him at the end of F1 2025 – or sooner – unless his form remains patchy.

Montoya said: “I heard a rumour that Christian Horner said [Perez’s contract] is one year plus option for another year. It’s not two years straight.

“To say that Checo has the contract for two years guaranteed is no such thing, [but] I would say the first year is very difficult to get him out unless all the races he does are like these last few.”

Perez has been largely inconsistent since enjoying his best-ever start to a season in F1 2023, when two wins from the first four races in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan saw him briefly threaten team-mate Max Verstappen.

Verstappen responded by embarking upon a record run of 10 consecutive victories as Perez’s mid-season slump saw his Red Bull seat come under threat.

Montoya described the need to do “everything” to gain an advantage in a tight inter-team battle in F1, adding: “You want and do everything you can to win.

“It can be things as simple eating a meal with garlic or onions – something with a strong smell – before a meeting and my team-mate says: ‘I hate the smell of onions.’

“So every meeting before every race I bring a plate of onions, for example.

“Anything that you know annoys the other person. It’s like sticking the little knife in.”

Montoya’s comments come after Perez hinted that his new Red Bull contract may not be his last, with the 34-year-old – who made his F1 debut with Sauber back in 2011 – taking inspiration from the longevity of multiple World Champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

He told reporters in Montreal: “Certainly when you look at Fernando or even Lewis, there’s a long way to go [in my career].

“But I think I didn’t sign my last contract. I don’t think I’ve done that.

“I don’t think it’s something that you feel, because when you commit to two years in Formula 1 it’s a lot of time, a lot of energy, and it’s a long way down the line.

“So, to be honest I don’t really think about that – but what I’m pretty sure about is that I want to finish my career at Red Bull.

“There were other options out there, but for me, my plan A, B, and C was definitely to stay at Red Bull.

“I really want to finish my career here, wherever that is. It’s a team that has given me so much into my career that I’m just really happy. I just want to give my best to this team until my last lap.”

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