Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner has shed light on the team’s strategic reflections and upcoming decisions regarding their driver line-up.
With Max Verstappen’s contract firmly in place until 2028, Red Bull enjoys stability at the forefront of the team.
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez’s contract is set to expire after the 2024 season, fuelling conjecture about his future with the dominant F1 outfit.
Horner emphasised, “We’re happy with Checo and he will be our driver next year.”
This shifts the spotlight to the following year, prompting questions about Perez’s tenability for 2025 and the potential candidates to fill his seat.
The mid-2023 introduction of Daniel Ricciardo to AlphaTauri suggests a strategic move by the team.
Horner elucidated, “The whole purpose of AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso before was to be training drivers as potential candidates for Red Bull Racing.
“That’s why, with Nyck [de Vries], it didn’t feel like he was going to be a Red Bull Racing candidate, so then the argument you put is, does it make sense to keep going?”
Ricciardo, an esteemed F1 veteran with an impressive record of eight race victories, now aligns with AlphaTauri’s development program.
Despite his experience, the decision to place Ricciardo at AlphaTauri implies a potential shift within the team’s driver hierarchy.
This move suggests that Ricciardo could be poised to assume Perez’s seat in the near future.
Regarding the prospects for 2025, Horner emphasised the importance of maintaining options, stating, “I think ’25, it’s just good always to have options […].
“If Checo delivers, we’ll keep going with Checo.
“If he doesn’t, for whatever reason, then we won’t be just restricted to AlphaTauri drivers, because there’s an awful lot of drivers up and down the pit lane that would like to drive a Red Bull car.”
When queried about Ricciardo’s potential for 2025, Horner compared the situation to the performances of veteran drivers like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, underscoring the significance of mental attributes in the sport.
Ricciardo’s return could spell trouble for Perez if he is able to prove his ability to deliver despite AlphaTauri disappointing performance so far this season.
The main goal for AlphaTauri simply seems to be avoiding a humiliating last place finish in the Constructors’ Standings.