The Heat Is On: How Sergio Perez Put His F1 Future in Further Jeopardy

Sergio Perez walks into the Red Bull hospitality unit 6 photos
Photo: @redbullracing
Sergio Perez prepares to go out on trackSergio Perez out on trackDaniel Ricciardo on track at the Red Bull RingDaniel Ricciardo signing autographs for fansDaniel Ricciardo attacks the Red Bull Ring
Deja vu. 'A feeling of having seen or experienced something before because it is similar to something that existed or happened before.'
Sergio Perez has not had much to smile about lately. A rotten run of six poor race weekends has helped stretched the gap between him and his reigning world-champion teammate, Max Verstappen, in the drivers' standings to over 100 points.

At Silverstone, he gave his critics more ammunition by making yet another amateurish mistake in qualifying which in turn severely compromised his race.

The repercussions of Perez's sixth poor weekend in a row are severe as the Mexican's Formula 1 future is now seriously under threat. Red Bull are now getting increasingly fed up with the six-time GP winner's high peaks and very low troughs and have urged him to up his game.

Perez's sudden departure could also further shake up a seemingly set-in-stone driver market. But who's futures will be shaken if Red Bull enacts a driver change?

A clumsy out-lap sets off a domino effect.

Even before he begun his programme for the weekend, Perez was already on the back foot. He was forced to sit out of FP1 so Red Bull could help fulfill its obligation to run a young driver in at least two practice sessions. Perez watched from the garage as Formula 2 star Isack Hadjar got some laps under his belt, setting the 19th fastest time of the session.

Perez was back in the car for FP2 and set some good lap times, finishing the session third fastest behind Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris. In a damp FP3, he was ninth fastest.

But all of Perez's positive momentum was washed away as he spun on his out-lap at Copse in Q1, beaching the Red Bull in the gravel trap and ending the session down in 19th.

The race wasn't any better. Perez started from the pits after an overnight engine change, and although he had made some progress through the field, a botched early strategy call to go for intermediates ruined his race. The leaders lapped Perez twice on his way to finishing 17th.

To make matters worse, Dutch publication Racingnews365 reports that Perez has strict clauses in his new contract, which he must match if he wants to retain his seat until 2026. These clauses include staying within five places of Verstappen in the drivers' standings and not falling more than 100 points behind his Red Bull teammate.

Currently, Perez is languishing down in sixith in the drivers standings 137 points behind Verstappen who leads the championship.

Is Ricciardo back in the box seat?

If Perez were to be dismissied, RB's Daniel Ricciardo who was brought back to Red Bull family as a third driver for 2023, could earn an unlikely promotion to the team.

Ricciardo didn't have a particularly strong Silverstone weekend, qualifying a disappointing 15th and finishing 13th, three places behind teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who scored one point.

However, Ricciardo's recent upswing in form might help his cause. So far, in 2024, the Australian has finished in the points at Canada and Austria and in the sprint at Miami, where he held Perez at bay for several laps.

Ricciardo tested for Red Bull the Monday after the 2023 British GP at Silverstone and was within a few tenths of Verstappen's pole time, a clear sign the Australian could still come close to matching the Dutchman.

But when asked about a potential return to Red Bull following qualifying at Silverstone, Ricciardo remained coy about his 2025 plans.

"I would never make any predictions in this sport; I feel like every year this sport goes on, the more it goes in the trend of the sport getting bigger, it's becoming more Hollywood, so to speak, in terms of the profile," said Ricciardo when asked to the media about his prospects for the second Red Bull seat after Saturday's Qualifying session. "Also, the narrative that runs through the sport now is certainly more Hollywood in terms of it's so unpredictable.

"Do I have any proof that I'll be anywhere else? I do not, and crazy things happen, but I am certainly not in a place to say that, or think that, or predict that."

Lawson to go elsewhere?

With Tsunoda seemingly overlooked for a promotion, attention turns to where Liam Lawson will go in 2025.

The New Zealander, made five F1 starts in 2023, replacing an injured Ricciardo at AlphaTauri and impressed many paddock judges by scoring two points at Singapore.

After being passed over for a full-time drive with RB for 2024, Lawson has spent the year as RB's reserve driver and will get test Red Bull's RB20 this week at Silverstone.

Although Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has openly commented Lawson is expected to get an F1 seat for 2025, the Kiwi is shopping about for drives.

One team which has suddenly emerged at the front of the queue for Lawson is Audi/Sauber, who are seemingly willing to pay Red Bull for the Kiwi's services. If Lawson were to be signed he would join German veteran Nico Hulkenberg at Sauber for 2025.

What next for RB?

If Lawson were to leave, Red Bull would be in a tricky situation regarding who partners Tsunoda for 2025.

Two Red Bull juniors who would likely be on the team's wishlist include Hadjar, who now leads the F2 standings, and Ayumu Iwasa, who currently lies second in Japan's Super Formula championship.

Both drivers have participated in FP1s for RB and Red Bull in 2024 and have FIA Super Licenses which allow them to race in F1.

Conclusion - Checo must do well at the Hungaroring or face the axe

Perez goes into the week's break between the British and Hungarian GP knowing he must refind his form to save his F1 career.

Qualifying has been a major problem for Perez in 2024, with four Q3 misses negatively impacting his weekend and limiting him to what he can achieve in the race. A fifth Q3 miss at the Hungaroring would be devastating as the tight, twisty circuit is extremely difficult to overtake at.

Ricciardo had a minor blip in Silverstone but generally seems fully back in the groove after a tricky start to 2024. Another point finish may inch him closer to a Red Bull seat for 2025 and potentially beyond, but Tsunoda will be difficult to beat.

If Ricciardo were to be promoted to Red Bull for 2025, Lawson would surely be back on the F1 grid but may decide to take a chance on Audi/Sauber rather than go for RB.
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