Perez told Marko he wants to retire ‘same time as you’

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez explaining with hand motions. Canada June 2022

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez explaining with hand motions. Canada June 2022

Negotiating with Helmut Marko for a new Red Bull, Sergio Perez told the team’s motorsport advisor that he wanted a long-term deal, one that would see him retire at the same time as the 79-year-old.

He got a two-year extension.

With his career seemingly over after he was dropped by Racing Point at the end of the 2020 season, Perez was handed a lifeline by Red Bull who signed him for 2021.

It was a one-year deal, the first time since Mark Webber that the Milton Keynes squad placed a driver from outside their own academy with the senior team.

It was an inspired decision, Perez playing his part, although just a small one, in Max Verstappen’s title success.

That earned him another deal for this year’s championship with a spate of podiums in the opening races seeing him confirmed for another two years.

He said thank you with a victory at the Monaco Grand Prix but admits he had wanted more than two seasons.

Speaking to Channel 4, he said: “It’s good to get that out of the way, because always negotiating a contract during a season it definitely takes energy out of you.

“I even wanted a longer term contract, I told Helmut [Marko] ‘I want to retire at the same time as you’.”

Perez signed the deal after the Spanish Grand Prix, a race in which he called Red Bull’s team orders “unfair” as they told him to move over for Verstappen.

Asked if he spoke with the team about being allowed to race Verstappen before he put pen to paper, the 32-year-old said: “To be honest that was never even in the conversation.

“To me it’s very clear and to the team, I’m here because I want to win and it’s always hard to get a contract out of Helmut and Christian, so that’s why these things take a bit longer.”

Perez and Verstappen’s relationship has so far shown no signs of conflict even when the Mexican driver got out of his RB18 after Spain and told the team they needed to have a talk.

It has pundits saying that even though Red Bull could be on course for an inter-team battle for the World title, they need not worry about a 2016 Mercedes situation.

“We get on really well,” Perez said. “We push each other which is good for the team, but ultimately we respect the team and we’re here for our team.”

Perez is P2 behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, trailing his team-mate by 21 points.


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