Helmut Marko admits that he does not see a better alternative for Pierre Gasly than to stay at AlphaTauri for the forseeable future.
Any prospect of the Frenchman returning to Red Bull looks to have been taken off the table following the recent news of Sergio Perez's contract extension, which will keep him as Max Verstappen's teammate until the end of 2024.
Perez has previously been handed one-year deals since joining the outfit in 2021, and Marko has revealed why, this time, the team were keen to get the agreement sorted at this early stage of the season.
"On Friday prior to the practice sessions in Monaco, we signed the contract, so Checo could further concentrate on the race weekend," Marko told Formel1.de.
"If you look at Red Bull's history, there is one particular characteristic that sets us apart: our continuity and planning ahead. So we wanted to be clear about the next few years."
Marko sees no alternatives for Gasly
Whilst Perez seemed to celebrate his contract extension by winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the deal may have raised questions for Gasly about his own future.
The AlphaTauri driver was promoted to the Red Bull squad back in 2019, but was demoted back down to the sister team before the season was over after struggling to match the pace of Verstappen.
Gasly is contracted to AlphaTauri until the end of 2023, and Marko does not currently see any alternative options for him.
"Before Perez signed his contract, of course I spoke to Gasly," Marko explained.
"We have to see what happens after 2023. What is the alternative for him?
"I don't think at the moment there is an alternative that would be significantly better than AlphaTauri."
Viewed by others:
Knock-on effect for Red Bull junior drivers
It is not just Gasly who may be thinking about his next steps in light of Perez's contract; behind Gasly and teammate Yuki Tsunoda, there are several Red Bull junior drivers who will be hoping to work their way up the motorsport ladder in the future.
Amongst these are Formula 2 stars Liam Lawson, Jehan Daruvala and Juri Vips.
Marko has suggested that it is unlikely that any of these youngsters will get an F1 opportunity in 2023, with AlphaTauri seemingly on course to retain their line-up of Gasly and Tsunoda.
"We can probably assume that the current drivers will remain in their places," Marko said.
"However, coronavirus is still present, so it could be that the youngsters will have to step in.
"Of course I hope no one gets injured, but they will have to keep waiting [for a full-time seat] for another year."
F1 Podcast: Was F1's cautious start to Monaco an insult to the drivers' abilities?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth discuss the Monaco Grand Prix, and reflect on whether decisions made by the Race Director were overly cautious.