More Sergio Perez speculation rises after latest Helmut Marko comments

Michelle Foster
塞吉奥Perez in serious conversation with Helmut Marko. Britain July 2023

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez in serious conversation with Helmut Marko.

Helmut Marko’s rather tame, by his standards, comments about Sergio Perez after the Qatar Grand Prix weekend have Kees van de Grint speculating it’s because the Mexican driver’s time at Red Bull is reaching an end.

Perez had an error-strewn and penalty-filled Qatar Grand Prix weekend with the Mexican driver qualifying down in 13th place on Friday night after losing a lap time that was fast enough for a Q3 berth when he exceeded the track limits.

He followed that up with a crash in Saturday’s Sprint race, a case of three not going into one although it could be argued that Perez was the only sighted driver in the mix. That effectively eliminated him from the championship race and handed Max Verstappen a third World title.

Helmut Marko was somewhat spiritless in his Sergio Perez criticism

With his crash requiring a major repair job, Perez started Sunday’s Grand Prix from the pit lane in what could only be described, and was by Christian Horner, as a “shocking” race with the 33-year-old penalised on three occasions.

Leaving Qatar with a solitary point on the board, Horner vowed to support Perez andput an “arm around the shoulders”, while Marko was surprisingly tame in his criticism with the Austrian not saying a word after Friday or Saturday’s antics.

He only spoke after the race, stating only that P2 in the Drivers’ standings is now under threat, and adding that whether Red Bull honour Perez’s 2024 contract is “entirely” up to the Mexican driverwith “three” drivers waiting in the wings.

By Marko’s standards, that was rather spiritless.

And that, reckons van de Grint, is perhaps a sign that Red Bull have already decided not to continue with Perez beyond the end of this season.

“What struck me, and I think there is a reason for that, but it was quiet,” quotes the former F1 tyre expert as having told Viaplay. “I didn’t hear anything from Marko. Normally this would be a reason for Marko to freak out after Perez’s performance.”

His fellow pundit Allard Kalff added: “All they said was that Perez would benefit from an arm on his shoulder.”


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Van de Grint continued: “I expect this to be the calm before the storm. I think something will happen once his second place in the World Championship is confirmed.”

“Then he will be kicked out,” Kalff said in response.

He reckons the time has come for Red Bull to have the conversation with Perez and acknowledge that it is not working out as expected. He says Perez may even be the one to instigate it.

“I assume that he has a watertight contract for next year, but I would also sit down with him now and say: ‘Sergio, friend. It doesn’t work that way.” But when Perez looks in the mirror, he must also come to the conclusion that this is not how it works. Should he want this?” he said.

As for who should replace the Mexican driver, the Viaplay pundits believe Red Bull should bank on Daniel Ricciardo as the eight-time Grand Prix winner comes with experience. He also won’t want to challenge Verstappen for number one status.

“You also have to look at Red Bull’s side,” van der Grint said. “Verstappen will become World Champion among the drivers, but also among the constructors.

“But the pressure from McLaren, among others, with two cars, could be very different next year. Then, just like McLaren now has, you want to have two drivers, who, for example, if you have a good car, will at least get on the podium.”

Kalff added: “With Ricciardo, you know how good he is. You know where he is lacking and you know that he will never say strange things. He will never say after three races: ‘I am going to keep Max from the World title.’ He knows that’s not going to happen. You have peace, you have security.”

Kalff, though, went on to propose another of Red Bull’s juniors: “In terms of speed? Why not put a Tsunoda there?”

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