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Sergio Perez

Who will be Max Verstappen's teammate at Red Bull in 2022?

As the 2021 F1 season hurtles past, thoughts turn to next year and the possibility of who might end up in the Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen

Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

As it stands, Red Bull only have one driver confirmed for 2022 - their talismanic leader Max Verstappen, who is nailed down on a long-term contract with the team.

It's a whole new era in 2022, with the introduction of new cars, wheels and technical regulations while, for Red Bull, it's the first year where they'll be running power units made by themselves (with a massive helping hand from Honda).

But, with Sergio Perez only on a one year deal with Milton Keynes, who are the options for the team to pop into their second car alongside Verstappen?

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg remains a possible contender for a return to Formula 1 with Red Bull, with the team holding serious discussions with him at the end of 2020 over a 2021 cockpit.

Hulkenberg is still a highly rated driver in the paddock, having signed up as a reserve driver for Aston Martin and Mercedes this year.

While the German impressed during his brief appearances in 2020, his contemporary experience won't be as important by the time 2022 rolls around due to the huge regulation changes. However, his extensive race experience and maturity could make him an attractive proposition if Perez fails to work out overall throughout this season.

Daniil Kvyat

Doesn't look likely, unfortunately for Kvyat. The Russian's ties with Red Bull now appear to be fully cut, having left AlphaTauri at the end of 2020.

He has since signed up with Alpine as their reserve driver, as he angles to find a way back into an F1 cockpit. If Red Bull didn't want to keep him for their junior team, it would take a pretty unusual set of circumstances to end up having to call the Russian for a chat.

Alex Albon

Albon is very much still within the Red Bull fold, currently serving as reserve driver for both the main team and the junior squad.

While Albon failed to impress in 2020, he retains backing from Red Bull, who have backed his DTM entry in an AlphaTauri-branded Ferrari.

Azerbaijan GP race winner Sergio Perez has expressed thanks to Albon for his help behind the scenes, while team boss Christian Horner has also outlined just how critical a role the British-Thai racer is playing with his simulator work.

It certainly isn't beyond the realms of possibility that the team could recall him, should they need to.

Pierre Gasly

Helmut Marko recently confirmed that Gasly remains under contract with Red Bull for another two seasons, meaning that he can be slotted in at RBR or AlphaTauri as required.

The French driver is a completely different proposition to the driver that was replaced at the senior team two seasons ago, with Gasly now a racewinner and a regular points scorer and occasional podium grabber.

However, there are constant rumours of tensions behind the scenes between Gasly and Red Bull despite their successes together. But, as seen before with Brandon Hartley and Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull and Marko are capable of rowing back on previous decisions.

Should Perez need to be replaced, Gasly is surely the leading contender to slot into the second Red Bull at this point.

Yuki Tsunoda

Unless his 2021 season radically turns around, Tsunoda is particularly unlikely to get a shot with Red Bull next season. The Japanese rookie has struggled to adapt to life in Formula 1, and has incurred the wrath of Marko after just a handful of races due to his constant incidents.

However, Tsunoda has been moved to Italy to be more closely supervised by AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost, and the team appear very serious about helping Tsunoda throughout his tough period.

As it stands, it's difficult to see Tsunoda being considered seriously for the second Red Bull seat unless his performances dramatically improve and, even then, the team may feel it's a step too far, too soon.

Liam Lawson/Juri Vips/Jehan Daruvala

The three Red Bull drivers currently racing in Formula 2 are all having reasonably strong seasons, with Vips impressing over the Baku weekend as he claimed two of the three race wins.

Vips is currently 15 points away from the lead of the championship table, with the Estonian adjusting to life in the feeder series on a fulltime basic this season.

Out of the three juniors in F2, Vips and Lawson appear to be battling over the chance to step up to F1 but this is far more likely to be for the privilege of a possible replacement for an underperforming Tsunoda rather than any shock signing for the senior team.

Realistically, if the circumstances were to happen that Red Bull were stuck, they're far more likely to call upon the services of an experienced outsider like Hulkenberg than a shock promotion of an unproven F2 driver.

Sergio Perez

Right now, Sergio Perez is doing everything he needs to do to secure a contract extension with Red Bull. While his first handful of races were shaky, the flashes of speed and racecraft have indicated that the Perez that has been a clear midfield leader in recent years is still in there.

The Mexican indicated he needed five races to get up to speed with the RB16B and stepped up in his sixth race to closely shadow Verstappen throughout the weekend. More importantly, Perez was there to pick up the pieces when Verstappen failed and the pressure exerted on Lewis Hamilton as a result triggered a brake settings error.

Perez' experience also helped him weather a hydraulic issue that forced him to stop the car immediately after the chequered flag.

Quite simply, if Perez continues as he is, Red Bull have a no-brainer decision ahead to sign the Mexican up on a longer-term deal.

However, there's also a possibility that Perez could be tempted away. After all, Mercedes are also looking at their driver line-up. Assuming Hamilton is staying, signing Perez alongside in place of a struggling Valtteri Bottas could be an attractive proposition, particularly with George Russell being somewhat more of a risk.

If Perez is offered a deal by both Red Bull and Mercedes, who will he choose? It's this contingency that Red Bull have to prepare for.

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