Dr Helmut Marko has revealed that Red Bull will decide “by the summer break” as to whom they will put in the car alongside Max Verstappen in 2023.
Sergio Perez managed five podium finishes and a race win last season in his debut year with the Milton Keynes-based team, and has started off 2022 with two podiums in four races, having been denied two more podiums and a victory in Jeddah after a reliability failure and an ill-timed Safety Car.
Ahead of the new season, Perez highlighted the importance of job security in a driver’s ability to perform, and indicated that he wanted a new deal.
“When the time comes, certainly as a driver, you really need to have some stability with your team, which is also good for the team to have some continuity. So I think, going forwards, I’m looking for a bit longer stay,” he said.
Pierre Gasly is another name thrown in the hat, and the Frenchman will be keen to gain an opportunity at vindication after his miserable half-season alongside Verstappen in 2019, but his three podiums and a victory at junior team AlphaTauri have epitomised a driver who has come leaps and bounds since his torrid time three years ago.
His deal expires at the end of 2023, and he has made no secret of his exigence at being in a Red Bull seat by 2024, so Dr Marko will have some decisions to make, and he has vowed to do just that by the midway point of this season.
“By the summer break, we will make a decision on who will be Verstappen’s team-mate in 2023,” said Marko.
“Pierre has a contract with us until the end of 2023, so there is still time. As always with Red Bull, it’s all about his performance.”
Following their disrupted start to the 2022 season, Verstappen led Perez home for the team’s first one-two since 2016, and the dynamic at the team, as well as obvious championship potential in the car, has reignited talk of Verstappen successfully defending his title this season.
Dr Marko has praised the performances of both of his drivers – in particular Perez, who has adapted phenomenally to the car in his second season with Red Bull.
“I wouldn’t dare say we are a force, but, last year, we had the fastest man with Max, now Perez is also getting better and better integrated in the team and understands the car better,” he said.
The Dutchman was rewarded with a new deal over the winter that keeps him at the team until 2028, and is worth an estimated $250 million.
He affirmed that his dramatic title success in 2021 was integral to him signing the new contract and committing the next seven seasons of his career to the Austrian outfit.
“I feel really well within the team. I’ve been part of this team now for a couple of years,” he said.
“What I always find important, of course, success is very important – that’s what we were targeting we achieved the championship last year. That was necessary, let’s put it like that.”
Red Bull sit 11 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship after their maximum points haul on Sunday in Imola.