Outgoing AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost has backed Sergio Perez to retain the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen.
Perez's future is under question beyond the end of the 2024 campaign following a difficult season this year.
The Mexican driver was heavily outperformed by team-mate Max Verstappen during the year and particularly struggled over one lap, suffering a series of non-Q3 appearances throughout the campaign.
Red Bull's team boss Christian Horner asserted that its options are open regarding its line-up ahead of the 2025 season.
However, speaking to RacingNews365, Tost stated that he sees no need to change after Red Bull won the Constructors' Championship this year, as well as ending the Drivers' standings with the top two positions for the first time in its history.
“It doesn't matter who is beside Max Verstappen, I think that he is simply the fastest [in F1],” Tost said.
“It depends on the team philosophy. Red Bull Racing want to win the Drivers' Championship, as well as the Constructors’ Championship and then you have to find the best possible combination.
“I think the combination they have now is very good, because Max is clearly the leader of the team. He is faster than Perez.
“But Perez is fast enough to finish second in the championship and they [Red Bull] are winning the Constructors' Championship.
“So what more do you want? They have to have peace in the team, because it's clear who is dominating.”
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Tost worked with Verstappen during the 2015 campaign when the Dutchman was promoted to a seat in F1 at just 17 years of age.
Speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, Tost reflected on his early thoughts of Verstappen.
“This unbelievable natural speed, you could see sometimes in Formula 3. I remember this wet race at the Norisring,” Tost said.
“I thought Max was driving on a dry line, because he was two seconds faster than the rest. This reminded me of when Michael Schumacher won a Formula Ford race at the Salzburgring. Similar conditions, and he was also, every lap, two or three seconds faster than the rest.
“I wanted to see, what is that driver doing in our car? We had done the test in Italy. He got immediately clear with the car. He adapted immediately to the speed, the brakes, everything.
“This was the big advantage for Max. He does not have a problem with the speed. Other drivers need ten laps, 20 laps, 100 laps, until they adapt this speed, the brakes and everything. Max had it under control.”
Tost remembered the reaction to his decision around fitting Verstappen into a race seat for 2015.
“We said, ‘okay, he should do the free practice in Suzuka.’ Then once more your colleagues came and said we are totally crazy, it’s one of the most difficult racetracks. He just went out and did his job without any problem.
“Then the second one was I think in Sao Paolo. I don't remember exactly the corner but he hit the oversteer. He lost it a little bit, but he caught the car without any problem. He was not surprised by the speed, he had it under control.”
Tost sees Ricciardo as role model
One such name that is vying for a Red Bull drive in 2025 is Daniel Ricciardo, who returned to AlphaTauri this year.
Ricciardo drove for the Red Bull sister squad in 2012 and 2013 before being promoted to Red Bull, where he won several Grands Prix.
Having been reunited with his former driver, Tost stated that Ricciardo has not changed much as a person.
“No, he didn't become so different as a person but of course, he is now much more experienced,” he said.
“When he was he was driving for us in 2012 and 2013, 10 years ago, in 10 years in F1 you learn a lot.
“He won eight races, he is a character Formula 1 is very well known and especially the young fans and the girls like him, that's important!
“We need to attract females in the sport, characters like Daniel and many F1 drivers, they're young, they look good. They have a lot of money. This is what females like!”