Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that it was an easy decision to retain Sergio Perez after his impressive start to life at the team.
Perez’s predecessor managed 17 points finishes in 26 races with the Austrian outfit between the midway point of 2019 and the end of 2020, and this, coupled with the two podiums he managed while team-mate Max Verstappen won three races in that time, saw him released at the end of 2020 and replaced with the now three-time race winner
The Mexican scored five podiums in 2021 as Verstappen won the world championship, and his victory in Baku evidenced his ability to secure wins for the team when Verstappen is unable to.
Perez’s impressive displays last season were enough to see him kept on this year, a move that has been justified by his four podiums and a win in Monaco.
It could, and surely would, have been more had it not been for the Safety Car that cruelly denied him in Jeddah when he was leading comfortably, so his satisfactory seven races thus far in 2022 are all Red Bull needed to see to know that he is the man to partner Verstappen going forward.
The 32-year-old signed a new contract since his victory on Sunday that keeps him at the team until at least the end of 2024.
Horner has watched his driver go from a back-up who so brilliantly held off Sir Lewis Hamilton to help Verstappen win the title last year, to a championship contender in his own right, so renewing his deal was not a tough call.
“Since joining Oracle Red Bull Racing, Checo has done a fantastic job,” he explained.
“Time and again he has proved himself to not only be a magnificent team player but, as his level of comfort has grown, he has become a real force to be reckoned with at the sharp end of the grid.
“This year he has taken another step and the gap to world champion Max has closed significantly, evidenced by his superb pole position in Jeddah earlier this year and by his wonderful win in Monaco just last weekend.
“For us, holding onto his pace, race craft and experience was a no-brainer and we are delighted that Checo will continue to race for the team until 2024.
“In partnership with Max we believe we have a driver pairing that can bring us the biggest prizes in F1.”
The Red Bull driver’s signature means that there will be no place for AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly when his deal runs out at the end of next season, so a return to the team he endured a disappointing half season with in 2019 – during which he did not manage a single podium – does not appear on the cards.
Perez is 15 points behind leader Verstappen in third in the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull lead Ferrari by 36 points in the constructors’ conversation.