Dr Helmut Marko has not ruled out the possibility that Red Bull may opt to bring Pierre Gasly back into the main fold, thus leaving Sergio Perez out of a seat.
Gasly spent 12 races alongside Max Verstappen in 2019 at Red Bull, and found himself out-qualified 11 times, while failing to get on the podium as the Dutchman claimed five of his own and won two races.
He was replaced with Alex Albon mid-season and, despite impressing in the latter part of 2019, the Thai-Brit endured a dire 2020, meaning he too was dropped by the Milton Keynes side.
Perez was then signed from Racing Point having won the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, and he claimed five podiums and a race win during his first year while superbly fending of Sir Lewis Hamilton in Turkey and Abu Dhabi to help Verstappen to title glory.
As a legacy of his satisfactory performances, he was kept on by the team for 2022, and Gasly, who has claimed three podiums and a race win since his departure, was forced to stay put at AlphaTauri – the team he was sent back to under the Toro Rosso name when he left Red Bull.
His deal with the junior team expires at the end of 2023, and he has equivocated that he will either “make the move to Red Bull, or not.”
It is difficult to see how the Frenchman would want to stay in the junior team beyond next season, but Dr Marko does not want to let the 26-year-old go.
“If this contract expires and we can’t offer him any chance of promotion, we will most likely lose him. We don’t want that,” he told Formel1.de.
Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger recently insisted that Gasly is “doing great and is a good driver,” insinuating that he would be deserving of a shot at redemption in the main fold, and his compatriot reveals that he will simply have to assess him and Perez.
“Gerhard is right [but] we currently have a contract with Checo and we have to compare the performance of these two drivers. With Checo we still have until the middle of the year,” Dr Marko explained.
Before the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, for which Perez took pole and agonisingly lost out on the win after an untimely Safety Car, Dr Marko was not willing to give any reassurances to the Mexican that his seat is safe.
“At such an early point in time when both still have zero points, there is no directing of the stable,” he said.
Having claimed his first F1 pole after 218 previous attempts, Perez was leading the race in Jeddah comfortably before the deployment of the influential Virtual Safety Car, so the 78-year-old declared himself pleased with his progress since joining last year.
“The car suits him better, he feels more comfortable and he knows the team,” he affirmed.
“We are very happy that this development has taken place.”
Meanwhile, Gasly exited the Bahrain Grand Prix along with both Red Bull cars due to a reliability failure, before hauling his AlphaTauri home for eighth in Jeddah despite severe abdominal pain.