Perez future predicted after Verstappen near-miss

Sergio Perez can expect to stay at Red Bull next season even though he was on the verge of eliminating teammate Max Verstappen in the last race in Miami.

Starting from fourth on the grid, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz described Perez as a “torpedo” as he barreled into Turn 1, coming within inches of overtaking Verstappen and nearly putting them both out of the race due to the slightest contact.

This incident was not very different from his debut in his home race in Mexico last year when he again made a bold move in the first turn, but over braked and collided with Charles Leclerc in his Ferrari.

In his assessment of what could have been a costly incident in Miami, former Force India, Aston Martin and Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer, speaking on the latest RacingNews365 podcast, said: “He got away with it.

“I understand that. He was fourth on the grid and probably the quickest way to go from fourth to third to second is at the start. If you don't do that, there will be overtakes, you have to prepare people, and it will take longer.” , you have to wait for DRS, all sorts of things.

He continued: “But in the beginning, you can make up a few places, and many drivers do that. As it turns out, he didn't hit anyone. Maybe Max a little bit, I didn't realize that.”

“But then he settled down and had a solid performance, finishing fourth. That's where he started, good points.”

“This combination seems to be working.”

Perez has managed to retain second place in the drivers' standings, despite falling 33 points behind Verstappen, and has a five-point lead over Leclerc ahead of next weekend's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola circuit.

While he recognizes that Perez “must perform well to maintain his leadership” for next season as his contract expires at the end of the year, Szafnauer feels that the decision for team principal Christian Horner and his advisor Helmut Marko is a clear and straightforward one.

“I think Chico is Max's number two,” Szafnauer added. “When he settles down, he doesn't make a lot of mistakes, he's second in the championship, and that's where you want him to be.

“I think this year, towards the end of last year, he's really stepped it up, and is doing the job for Red Bull. Let's see how that continues in the future.

“I heard they have an upgrade coming for the Imola car, which is the next race, so it will be really interesting to see how their upgrade works, and how Max and Chico do at Imola once they put the upgrade on the car. Versus McLaren and Ferrari.”

Asked directly if he felt Perez would be at Red Bull next season, Szafnauer replied: “Yes, I think he will. I think he's doing a good job. If I were to make that decision, I would keep him. This combination seems to be working.”

“Next year there will not be a big change in the regulations again, and for me, if this combination of drivers is successful, I will keep it as it is.”


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