Red Bull Racing’s team principal Christian Horner has shed light on the future of their driver lineup.
Despite a shaky start for Sergio Perez, Horner remains steadfast in his support, affirming that Perez’s contract will be upheld for the 2024 season.
However, the question of who will occupy the Red Bull seats in 2025 has started to arise, opening the door to several potential candidates.
Perez’s performance in the current season has been met with both accolades and criticism.
The Mexican driver’s struggle to match the pace set by his teammate, Max Verstappen, has been evident, with Verstappen securing a substantial 125-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.
Although Perez began the season on a strong note, with two wins in the opening four races, a misfortunate crash during qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix led to a loss of trust in his car and a subsequent decline in performance.
With five consecutive race weekends failing to qualify for Q3, Perez faced persistent speculation about his future with Red Bull Racing.
Despite the doubts raised by pundits, Horner remained optimistic, believing that Perez’s fortunes could be turned around with a single standout race.
This optimism bore fruit at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Perez’s impressive charge from ninth on the grid to a podium finish demonstrated his resilience.
A second-place result at the Belgian Grand Prix further solidified his comeback.
While Perez’s championship aspirations appear to be slipping away, he still holds a secure second place in the standings, holding a 40-point advantage over Fernando Alonso.
Horner’s commitment to Perez was unambiguous as he reaffirmed the existing contract: “We have a contract… he will be our driver next year.”
Yet, Horner also introduced an element of uncertainty, hinting at the broader strategy of driver development within the Red Bull family.
Horner referenced the historical purpose of AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso, their roles as driver training grounds for potential Red Bull Racing candidates.
This background sets the stage for Red Bull Racing’s decision to drop Nyck de Vries after a string of underwhelming performances.
“For us, it’s always good to have… 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?”
As reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo expressed his desire to continue into 2024 and vie for Perez’s seat, the Red Bull hierarchy faced a complex decision.
Horner acknowledged that the options for the 2025 season were wide-ranging.
Beyond Ricciardo and de Vries, Yuki Tsunoda emerged as a contender from within Red Bull’s ranks, while external drivers also entered the discussion.
Horner made it clear that the team’s choices would be driven by performance, with Perez’s contract continuation contingent on his ability to deliver results.
Age, according to Horner, would not be a limiting factor.
Citing the examples of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who continue to compete at a high level despite being in their 40s, Horner extended this perspective to Daniel Ricciardo, who is set to turn 36 in 2025.
“I don’t see age as a barrier,” he said.
“It’s all about what’s [in the mind] that counts.”