Too soon? Our verdict on Red Bull keeping Perez for F1 2025

Sergio Perez has penned a new contract with Red Bull in Formula 1 as Max Verstappen's team-mate for at least the 2025 season, and possibly for another year after that as well.

This is for a driver who started 2024 as a stalwart of the Red Bull powerhouse, but has since faced a significant downturn in form as the team's rivals look closer than ever – which makes the timing of this announcement odd.

Why Red Bull made this decision – or why now? Does this ensure team harmony in turbulent times or does it pose a threat to Verstappen's supremacy in F1?

Our writers have their say:

There must be other factors behind this

Scott Mitchell Malm

It's difficult to justify this decision for competitive reasons beyond “what makes life easier for Verstappen” – which may be Red Bull's clearest path to success.

Had this been announced during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, for example, it would have been difficult to argue with. Red Bull up front, Perez effectively supporting Verstappen for the most part, and there is a very strong foundation set for the two 2024 championships to be concluded with minimal fanfare.

After three races, the competitive picture is no longer the same. Red Bull came under more pressure and Perez's level declined sharply. There is every chance and expectation that he will recover, score good results between now and the end of the season, and perhaps even pick up a win or two – but that is the way Perez's Red Bull season is going.

Given that Red Bull bosses not long ago were talking about not rushing into a decision, and were joking that Perez was performing so well because he was fighting for a new contract, it seems strange to reward him with a new deal when he has stopped doing well enough. A job – even if it's only temporary.

Red Bull has time on its side, so securing Perez now will have to be about more than just performance. There are other factors that should come into play.

Does Perez benefit from a close alliance with team boss Christian Horner, who appears to have won any internal war waged in recent months? Is continuity simply easier and less messy? Or is it a case of letting Verstappen be No. 1 and relying on 1.5 cars is enough to win both championships given that Red Bull has to have the best package during the rest of the season?

It may be all of the above, and/or some unknown variables. But no one can deny that Perez got this deal despite his recent form, not because of it.

This goes against what made Red Bull's reputation

Ben Anderson

I'm honestly quite surprised by Red Bull's decision to stick with Perez. Admittedly, he started 2024 better than he ended 2023 (not hard!)

No one should drop out of Q1 in that car, and Monaco reminded us how much Perez falls below Verstappen's form when that car doesn't fit within the much narrower performance window in which he can operate compared to his teammate.

As the current development war rages on over the remainder of 2024 and early 2025, Red Bull is likely to come under increasing pressure from Ferrari and McLaren. These teams are on a remarkable trajectory that suggests they will do everything in their power to snatch championship titles from Red Bull before another major rule change resets the game.

To that end, Red Bull certainly needs the best driver line-up available – and Verstappen and Perez are not. It's true that there weren't unlimited options available, but at some point Red Bull certainly could have opted for Fernando Alonso or Carlos Sainz – both of whom, I think it's fair to say, would represent an upgrade for Perez at the moment.

Re-signing Perez also pushes Red Bull to rely entirely on Verstappen to move forward as their main driver after 2025 – something that is by no means guaranteed given his unemotional competitive nature and the realistic possibility of Red Bull's engines becoming obsolete when the 2026 engine rules kick in. .

Of course, managing the different dynamic with Alonso or Sainz in the team might not have been easy. But the dynamic with Perez wasn't easy throughout his time at Red Bull either.

Red Bull has built its incredible reputation in Formula 1 by making bold, challenging and sometimes brutal decisions. This seems like the opposite.

It's best not to upset the apple cart

Gary Anderson

Perez is perhaps the only driver who can give Red Bull what it wants. He is now clearly number two and he accepts that and understands how the team led by Verstappen works.

If Red Bull signs someone like Sainz, it will be an even bigger upset on the apple cart during these internally turbulent times.

So it's best to stick to what he knows and if he can give Perez a car he's happy with he'll score reasonable points. If Verstappen slipped on a banana peel it would be a completely different story.

It could be bad for Verstappen

Ed Straw

Having an easy teammate who is easy to beat and compatible tends to suit star drivers, and is often beneficial as it ensures that focus is not divided and maximum results are achieved. However, there are circumstances where Verstappen could regret not having a stronger teammate at his side.

When it comes to 'number two' drivers, the focus of discussion is usually on the Constructors' Championship. But there's also the Drivers' Championship angle, because in a close fight with another team or teams, you need points deducted from the opponent.

This could run the risk of being sidetracked into taking points away from each other, the classic example being Williams pairing Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet in 1986 and Alain Prost winning the title, but it could also be a valuable weapon.

In a close race with McLaren or Ferrari – and perhaps both – Perez's failure to provide a barrier in qualifying could see the title battle against Verstappen sway.

Verstappen has a few weaknesses but one thing he can't do is drive both cars and for that reason, if things go wrong, he either needs a more consistent, dependable Perez – and at his best, he can be exactly that – or a stronger one. Perhaps more annoying is his colleague next to him.

This makes Verstappen's life easier

Glenn Freeman

If Red Bull's rivals manage to reunite in 2025, retaining Perez will make winning the Constructors' Championship next year difficult.

But this could be the simpler path to Verstappen winning another driver's title.

Yes, Perez's fluctuations in form will leave Verstappen exposed if he faces a real test from the Ferrari and/or McLaren drivers throughout the entire season. But Max is able to fight this battle alone.

While the more even pairing of Leclerc/Hamilton and Norris/Piastri will sometimes leave him outnumbered, they will take points away from each other in a way that won't happen at Red Bull.

The condition of a known quantity makes this a gamble

Bear died

The apparent clamor from some in the media and fan base for Perez to be replaced may seem unfair to the driver who has won the Grand Prix six times, finished second in the World Championship and played a vital role in securing Verstappen's victory. Lewis Hamilton to the only title Verstappen has had to fight for so far.

After all, Verstappen is a fierce teammate to take on. How many people can Red Bull really be confident that they will do a better job compared to the great captain leading the team at the moment?

But the important point now is that Perez in Red Bull is a known quantity. It's not bad, and on its best days it was pretty good. But we know what Perez looks like in a dominant Red Bull car, and that includes a Q2 or even Q1 exit and not getting on the podium in some of the races Verstappen wins. You need more than that if you're in close contention for the title, and Red Bull could be close.

Alternatives exist and Perez is not performing well enough that Red Bull must feel they have a lot to lose by trying one of these alternatives.

It is not difficult for Perez to say that he has spent his time at Red Bull. He now stands as the 24th most decorated of all time in Formula 1, and has a few well-earned wins (one before Red Bull, of course) and two top-three finishes in the championship. This is truly an impressive career innings for a driver who at one stage looked like he would never get a chance near the front of the Formula 1 grid – and he actually deserved it.

Now he can continue to add to those stats. But if the competition is around the corner, he will not be able to climb the podium at the same rate unless he is closer to Verstappen more often.


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