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Sergio Perez

Why Red Bull must keep Perez over Ricciardo

The Mexican's future with Red Bull has been a topic of speculation in recent months.

To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez's future with Red Bull has become the centre of speculation in recent months as another championship charge crumbles.

The Mexican entered the season hopeful of challenging teammate Max Verstappen for the F1 Drivers' title but, with a 125-point advantage for the Dutchman almost certainly handing him a third-successive triumph.

Red Bull's hierarchy is adamant Perez's contract through to the end of next season, yet a look at the team's history with drivers proves anything can happen.

Here's why Perez must remain at Milton Keynes next season for the sake of the team and Verstappen.

Why Perez is under pressure

The focal point of Perez's season has been a nightmarish run of form from the Miami Grand Prix through to the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Miami in itself wasn't too much of an issue, even if Verstappen's charge through the top 10 for a comfortable victory demonstrated the gulf in class between the teammates.

A crash in Q1 at the Monaco Grand Prix left Red Bull's floor exposed to rivals and Perez at the back of the grid. An eventful race would see him leave the race without points and effectively end his title aspirations.

A lack of pace in Spain saw him fail to reach Q3 again, eventually missing out on a podium, while a 'qualifying mess' saw him again miss out on the top 10 for the Canadian Grand Prix, where he would go on to finish sixth.

Perez returned to the podium in Austria having finished second in the Sprint - though again failed to reach Q3 in the main qualifying - whilst a fifth race without reaching the final stage on Saturday came at Silverstone.

Daniel Ricciardo's return to AlphaTauri pre-Hungary led to screws being turned further and a crash less than five minutes into FP1 would have done little to help Perez's situation.

But a strong fightback saw him break his Q3 drought before an aggressive drive from ninth to the podium led to Team Principal Christian Horner labelling the performance as a "statement".

A clash with Lewis Hamilton led to retirement in the Belgian Sprint but second on the road - albeit a long way back from Verstappen despite a grid penalty for the Dutchman - was a much-needed confidence boost heading into the summer.

The gap between the two Red Bull drivers is alarming and with Ricciardo's talents alongside Verstappen documented, as well as rivals that could fill the seat alongside the two-time champion, Perez's position is precarious.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Red Bull driver history

A look at Nyck de Vries' 10-race tenure shows the lack of patience the Red Bull operation has when it comes to driver performance.

Perez followed Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly as Verstappen's teammate, with the current Williams and Alpine drivers moved aside prematurely after their own struggles.

Verstappen himself made his breakthrough with Red Bull after replacing Daniil Kvyat following just four rounds in 2016 - proof that Horner and Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko are far from shy when pulling the trigger.

Marko has, perhaps surprisingly, been supportive of Perez's position within the team this year. There has been no shortage in criticism from the Austrian, yet he has continually insisted the line-up is set to remain the same for next year - something you must take at face value given how outward his statements are.

Why Perez must stay

So why should Perez stay?

The championship table doesn't lie and when all is said and done, he is second in the Drivers' standings and backing up Verstappen.

That is his only target at Red Bull - complete the championship one-two.

Before his rough patch - and when championship hopes were realistic - Perez was in blistering form. He had matched Verstappen in the opening four rounds to take two race wins, as well as the Azerbaijan Sprint, to place himself firmly in the fight.

That form was something not seen by one of Verstappen's teammates since before Ricciardo departed.

Perez has also been the perfect number two driver for the Dutchman in his championship quests. The Abu Dhabi finale in 2021 largely swayed towards Verstappen after his colleague defended valiantly from Hamilton.

Any issues that have arisen have largely been ironed out - at least in the public eye - so there is little need to break up any existing tension between the duo.

Who else could come in next season? Ricciardo looks like the only realistic option and there are no guarantees that the Australian will reach the form that took him to eight race victories before his unceremonious ending with McLaren.

He will likely remain with AlphaTauri for next season, so the real question will be who will take the seat in 2025.

That is a bridge to be crossed next term but for now, Red Bull should stick with Perez.

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