Helmut Marko comments on firing Sergio Perez after ‘leaky’ contract claim

Helmut Marko has offered a lifeline to Sergio Perez after Daniel Ricciardo's return raised speculation about the Mexican’s Red Bull seat.

In the midst of speculation surrounding Daniel Ricciardo’s potential return to Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen, Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s advisor, has challenged Sergio Perez to enhance his qualifying performance in order to secure his place in the team. 

Ricciardo is set to make his comeback to the Formula 1 grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.

Marko, speaking to De Telegraaf, emphasised Perez’s current standing in the drivers’ championship as a reason to retain him, stating, “Sergio is second in the drivers’ standings, so what is the point of refusing his services now? 

“He had a good race at Silverstone – he just needs to improve in qualifying.” 

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Perez has faced difficulties in recent races, failing to progress to Q3 in the last five consecutive races and being eliminated in Q1 at three events, including the British Grand Prix.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also stood by Perez, countering suggestions of a potential replacement, saying, “Checo… everybody’s fully behind [him]. 

“Anybody talking about replacing Checo is wide of the mark.” 

The decision to bring back Ricciardo to AlphaTauri stems from his impressive performance during a Pirelli tyre test shortly after the British Grand Prix. 

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Ricciardo’s lap times were competitive across all three tyre compounds, with a time that would have secured him a front-row grid position.

The move has fuelled speculation that Ricciardo’s final destination could be a return to Red Bull alongside Verstappen, potentially displacing Perez. 

F1 TV presenter Will Buxton expressed that it would not be surprising to see Ricciardo back at Red Bull. 

Similarly, Ted Kravitz, a host on Sky Sports, suggested that Perez would be concerned about Ricciardo’s return, stating, “I think it makes Sergio Perez check the terms of his contract to see if it’s as leaky as Nick de Vries’ contract with Red Bull obviously was. 

“If he is amazing, then Checo will be pretty worried actually.”

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Addressing the rumours surrounding his future, Perez remained unfazed during the Silverstone race weekend and sent a clear message to his doubters. 

He stated, “[I’m] not worried about any of that, I’m mainly focused on getting my season back on track and making sure I keep enjoying this. 

“I have full support from Helmut [Marko] and Christian [Horner], the whole team is fully supporting me, they know what I can do, they know my potential, and they are fully behind me.”