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Sergio Perez

Is Perez's time at Red Bull up?

With Red Bull's rivals closing in, is Perez's time with the team nearly at an end?

Perez Bird
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Sergio Perez's place at Red Bull is coming under more and more pressure as his struggles in F1 continue.

The Mexican was the solution to the Milton Keynes-based outfit's issues when joining in 2021 after years of trying to find a suitable teammate for Max Verstappen, with Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly falling by the wayside.

But whilst his campaign got off to a flying start this term, a series of nightmare race weekends have left question marks over his future despite Team Principal Christian Horner and Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko reiterating Perez has a contract for 2024.

So how long can he hold on to his spot?

A season of struggles

Red Bull's ultimate goal is to secure a first one-two Drivers' championship finish in the team's history.

Perez is currently on course to achieve that feat for the team as he holds a 30-point advantage over Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

But the fact that he sits 209 points off teammate Verstappen with five races left underlines how off the pace he has been since the Miami Grand Prix.

His troubles started in Monaco where a crash in Q1 led to a miserable Grand Prix with no points scored and there was no doubt Perez's confidence took a major hit.

No Q3 appearance until the Hungarian Grand Prix despite the RB19's dominance over the rest of the field left him with too much to do in the races and in a flash, the championship challenge was over.

Momentum seemed to be back on Perez's side after the summer break with a second-place finish in the Italian Grand Prix providing optimism that his difficult streak had come to an end and confidence was restored behind the wheel.

However, his Singapore Grand Prix involved two incidents in the midpack and the Japanese Grand Prix proved no better - multiple penalties and damage to the car eventually ending in a disappointing retirement.

Moving onto Qatar and Perez couldn't reach Q3 in Friday's qualifying before only marginally making SQ3 in the Shootout. His Sprint came to an early end after contact with Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg - though he was the innocent party as the Alpine and Haas tangled.

The extensive damage led to repairs taking place under parc fermé conditions and handed Perez with a pit lane start.

Whilst he made no contact with any other car and was hampered by starting on the unfavoured Hard tyres, his progress through the field compared to Mercedes' George Russell - who was hit by teammate Hamilton and forced to pit at the end of the first lap - was a stark reminder of Perez's difficulties of late.

Three separate penalties for track limit violations would take away his actual finishing position and instead leave him with a single point for 10th.

It was a huge opportunity missed against Hamilton, who was out of the race following his collision with Russell and ensures the fight for second remains in the balance.

Why should Red Bull be concerned?

Perez's struggles last season and this haven't had a detrimental effect on Red Bull's success.

He narrowly missed out on second to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the final event last year and, as aforementioned, is in the driving seat for the one-two this term.

But as Red Bull's focus shifts to a title defence next season, Horner and Marko will be getting nervous over the resurgent McLarens.

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have outscored Red Bull since the summer break, owing to the two-pronged attack whilst Perez has been struggling at the bottom end of the top 10 - and sometimes out of it.

If the Woking-based outfit continues its upward trajectory over the winter and into next season, Red Bull may face a legitimate title challenge.

That's notwithstanding the improvement Mercedes will aim to make when it brings what is likely to be the first of a new breed for the Silver Arrows, which ditched its initial aerodynamic concept in Monaco and has raced with a mesh design since.

Ferrari is also likely to bring a new car having itself switched from the scalloped sidepods to a look more resemblant of the Red Bull earlier this term.

With all three teams and potentially Aston Martin making strides over the winter, Red Bull will desperately need Perez to join Verstappen at the front consistently to assist the Dutchman in collecting points for the Constructors' championship.

Perez has proven he has the speed to succeed - look at Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan for proof - but if his form continues as it is over the final five races, there is every chance Red Bull could pull the plug in fear of a title loss next season. With Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings, the question will be: 'Would Ricciardo do any worse?'

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