Big Names Forming A Queue, But Sergio Perez Still In The Driver’s Seat At Red Bull

Helmut Marko
Helmut Marko

Dr. Helmut Marko has acknowledged that there are at least three, possibly even more, drivers who are interested in taking over Sergio Perez‘s seat at Red Bull for the 2025 season.

Despite this competition, Red Bull’s leading F1 advisor has indicated that Perez is still in the driver’s seat when it comes to fending off the competition for 2025 and beyond.

“Checo has to deliver consistent performance,” Marko told Kleine Zeitung.

“It’s clear that he can’t always drive at (Max) Verstappen’s level, but if he comes second in the championship with one or two wins, he will certainly be a topic for 2025,” added the 80-year-old, who hailed Perez for being an “absolute team player”.

Marko is regarded as being particularly hard on Perez, 34, but he also acknowledges the difficulty of his job.

“One the one hand it’s a highly sought after seat,” he said. “But on the other hand it’s an ejector seat, as no teammate can hold a candle to Max and it can quickly become demoralising.”

Marko says Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda – the duo at the second Red Bull team RB – are also watching Perez’s situation very closely.

“For both of them, it’s not just about staying in Formula 1, but also about the possibility of promotion to Red Bull Racing,” he admitted. “This applies to the person who clearly dominates the season within the team.”

Marko denies that former Red Bull driver Alex Albon is still a contender to replace Perez.

“Albon is not an issue for us – he has a (Williams) contract until 2025,” he said.

But what about another former Red Bull family member – the soon-to-be Ferrari refugee who is now actively looking for another top seat for 2025.

“(Carlos) Sainz probably wants to make a decision earlier than we do,” Marko said, explaining that Red Bull can afford to wait until “after the summer break”.

The Christian Horner saga aside, Red Bull is in a luxury position for 2024, with Marko openly admitting the 2024 car has the edge over the rest of the field.

“Max’s last long run on Friday was impressive,” said Marko, referring to the Bahrain pre-season test. “He drove these times with such enormous ease and his feedback was always so precise.

“That was a relief because there was certainly a risk in what we did with the car,” he said. “Because we were so superior last year, we were able to think about the new car very early.

“If we had just brought an evolution of last year’s car, there would also have been a great risk that someone would discover something that went beyond the normal evolution. That’s why we took the more radical route. I would describe our car as a revolution,” Marko explained.

“Our goal is a fourth world title – that’s clear. And the package is right. Max has become even better, if that’s even possible.”

He admits that, at present, Ferrari looks like Red Bull’s hottest pursuer early in 2024.

“Ferrari has come closer. In qualifying they are perhaps even equal, especially (Charles) Leclerc. That is his strength – he is perhaps the best qualifier.

“I don’t expect that this year we will have the same dominance we had last year,” said Marko. “But of course the world title is clearly achievable.

“That would put Max in the ranks where there are only (Michael) Schumacher and (Lewis) Hamilton in front of him and it took them a lot longer to achieve those records.”

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