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Red Bull Racing

Red Bull seat in demand: 'Drivers offered to race for free'

The second Red Bull seat next to Max Verstappen could be a blessing and a curse. Yes, you drive the fastest car on the grid, but it can also be a career killer.

Verstappen Monza Perez
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Is Red Bull the place to be for a driver (if your name is not Max Verstappen), or would you be wise to stay far away from that seat because of the risk of being beaten?

In the last three years, none of Max Verstappen's Red Bull teammates managed to even come close to and stay with the Dutchman on a consistent basis.

Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon were forced to leave after 12 months or less and although Sergio Perez has lasted significantly longer, he has struggled to match Verstappen like Nico Rosberg did with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Horner: Checo is our driver

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has admitted that some F1 drivers on the grid are desperate to replace Sergio Perez, that they would be willing to drive for free.

After Ayrton Senna once famously offered to drive for Williams for free amid their dominance in the mid-90s, Horner likened this when asked about the state of Perez and his drive.

"There's been a little bit of that, but there's no guarantees of anything," Horner told Sky Sports.

"Checo is our driver. If he does well, we'll want to keep him for 2025, but it's all about how he performs in relation to his team-mate.

"I think he has shown real mental strength to be able to cope with that. The area he needs to focus on is Saturday - making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max.

"We need him starting further up the grid, particularly if the grid is going to converge. We can't afford to have a lot of cars between him and Max."

"2024 is a big year. A lot of drivers' contracts are coming to a close. We've got great talent in our own stable. Of course the car is very attractive for other drivers to want to be in."

The first choice, if Horner is to be believed, is and remains Sergio Perez. He still has 12 months left on his current contract, but performing well compared to his teammate is no easy task.

Horner stresses that the Mexican is aware of this pressure: "There's been a little bit of that, but there's no guarantees of anything. Checo is our driver. If he does well, we'll want to keep him for 2025, but it's all about how he performs in relation to his team-mate."

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