Sergio Perez’s Red Bull future is ‘unsustainable’ with ‘different planets’ verdict issued

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez smiling with Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez: "So (retirement is) not going to be any time soon."

Although Sergio Perez has three runner-up results to Max Verstappen this season, his deficit to his team-mate is such that Ralf Schumacher believes his position at Red Bull is “unsustainable”.

Four races into the new F1 season and Red Bull are once again on course for a championship double, and perhaps a repeat of last year’s 1-2 in the Drivers’ standings.

‘In the race it is as if they are both from different planets’

The team has bagged three 1-2 results, every one of those with Verstappen ahead of Perez, with Australia the only race they didn’t win after Verstappen retired with a rear brake failure.

However, even with the Dutchman out of the Grand Prix, Perez could not pull off the win and only finished P5 with Ferrari taking the 1-2.

Going on to finish the Japanese Grand Prix 12 seconds behind his team-mate, Schumacher says it’s like the Red Bull team-mates are from “different planets” and that it is time Red Bull realised this.

“If everything goes well, he can stay close to Max Verstappen. In the race it is as if they are both from a different planet while they are in the same car,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“It is unsustainable for the team.”

Instead, he has urged Red Bull to sign Australian GP winner Sainz as Verstappen’s 2025 team-mate, or even gamble on young drivers such as Liam Lawson who impressed at Red Bull’s junior team when he stood in for Daniel Ricciardo last year.

“Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso are available. There are also young drivers who are emerging, there is a lot happening on the market,” he said.

“At the moment I think Max Verstappen will stay, despite Mercedes hoping otherwise. I think Carlos Sainz has the best chance [of the seat] after the next race.”

He added: “Sainz is used to driving next to strong drivers and he knows that the Max Verstappen era must end at some point. He knows that.

“Sainz thinks he is the best driver, otherwise he wouldn’t be doing this [racing]. We shouldn’t underestimate how much racing intelligence he has.

“The only question I have is how he handles the [Red Bull] concept. We know that the car has a lot of understeer because Max Verstappen wants that.”

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Red Bull, though, face the conundrum of potentially have two strong drivers or a clear number one and number two as they do today.

Viaplay’s Allard Kalff believes if they want to take the chance on the former, Red Bull should rather promote Tsunoda or Lawson.

“Tsunoda or take a risk with Lawson, but you don’t want any of that. As long as you have Verstappen, Perez is fine,” he told the In the Slipstream programme.

“You can do Tsunoda, but is that a successor to Max? No, I don’t think so. I don’t see straight away who should be the successor.”

He supports Perez staying on Marko’s grounds of only giving the Mexican driver a one-year contact to force him to always try a bit harder.

“Do you know what I like?” he added. “Helmut Marko says: ‘Give him a one-year contract, because then he stays hungry. Then he has to keep proving himself’.

“Isn’t it great, if only they did that to football players!”

Kees van de Grint, a former Bridgestone engineer, can’t see Red Bull changing their line-up.

“Pérez is staying,” he insisted, “because I just see that he is one of the better [drivers]. Not the best, but one of the better.

“Verstappen is simply in a class of his own.”

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