Red Bull to ditch Sergio Perez, but Daniel Ricciardo won’t return

Sergio Perez is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2024, when he'll be in need of an extension or a new seat.

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button believes Sergio Perez isn’t at risk of being dropped this season; however, the Briton does wonder if the Mexican could be replaced when his contract expires.

Perez is currently contracted until the end of 2024, with Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko having insisted that the Austrians will honour the 33-year-old’s deal.

Despite that, he’s been in shocking form recently.

Since finishing second at the Miami Grand Prix, Perez has failed to finish on the podium, whilst he’s also failed to qualify for Q3.

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The Red Bull driver has finished 16th, fourth and sixth since Miami, whereas Max Verstappen has claimed the win at each race.

As a result, Perez has slipped to 69 points behind the reigning World Champion ahead of next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, considerably reducing his chances of winning a maiden title.

With Fernando Alonso now only being nine points behind, Perez perhaps needs to consider turning his attention to defending second in the standings, rather than pursuing Verstappen.

His downfall has been unbelievable, given that he started 2023 so strongly.

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Perez was labelled as a certain title contender after he claimed two wins from the opening four races, a sort of run he desperately needs to replicate.

His sudden downward spiral is actually very similar to what happened in 2022, with him having also started last season on a positive note before falling away.

Checo’s biggest issue has been progressing to Q3, given that whenever he’s failed to do so he hasn’t recovered a podium.

When he has made it to Q3, Perez hasn’t finished any lower than second, indicating that race pace isn’t an issue.

Even if Red Bull were to drop him immediately, there isn’t really anybody other than development driver Daniel Ricciardo to replace him, and there is no guarantee that he’ll do any better.

Button expects Perez to keep his seat until the end of 2024, when it’s then anybody’s guess as to whether he’ll be offered a new contract.

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“I don’t think he is [in danger] for this year but at the end of the year who knows,” Button said during a NASCAR media call, as reported by ESPN. “Who do you put in there?

“Obviously they have Daniel Ricciardo there as an ambassador but I don’t know if they are willing to put him in that seat.

“I’ve got to feel for Checo [Perez], three races on the bounce he’s been below par. There’s no catching Max now he’s gone and the championship is definitely his.”