Red Bull Racing have confirmed they are in no race to discuss a 2022 contract with current driver Sergio Perez, or any possible replacement, until Formula One’s summer break at the earliest.
In the offseason, Perez replaced Alex Albon on a one-year deal, but has taken some time to adjust. He has less than half the points of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who leads the championship.
Red Bull is not in a hurry to decide whether Perez is a longer-term option than just a single season.
“We’ll start thinking about it in the summer at the earliest,” team advisor Helmut Marko told Formel1.de.
“We are a very sought-after partner on the driver market. I don’t think a driver will enter into negotiations or a deal with any other team until he has tried to come to an agreement with us.
“We are now fully focused on the world championship, and we don’t see any problem there in terms of who will be Max Verstappen’s teammate next year.
“It will certainly be a competitive guy. But there is still time.”
As young drivers Pierre Gasly and Albon struggled alongside Verstappen, Perez was brought in, one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and the Sakhir winner from last year.
Perez has shown glimpses of matching Verstappen so far, according to Marko.
“Let’s start with the positive, that’s the race performance.
“It’s very good, sometimes at Max’s level. He proved that in Monte Carlo when we went for the overcut. That was three or four laps where he drove the fastest laps overall, with already very used tyres. So the race pace is there.
“The area where we’re still lacking is in qualifying. We need to see an improvement there,” said Marko.
On that note, Perez is looking forward to putting together a complete weekend when he takes to the streets of Baku.
“I’m really looking forward to Baku and I hope we can put a strong qualifying together because we’ve proved that our race pace is right up there with the best. We just have to improve our Saturdays and then we should be fine.
“We have to stay realistic and know that it’s race five of the season. It doesn’t matter where we are now, it only matters where we end up at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi. We need to keep our heads down and continue working as hard as we have been doing in the past months,” added Perez.