Red Bull warned it would be ‘madness’ to axe Perez and re-sign Gasly

Sergio Perez has managed two podium finishes in the early part of the 2022 season despite suffering plenty of misfortune.

Former Formula 1 engineer and tyre specialist Kees van de Grint has advised against Red Bull dropping Sergio Perez in favour of Pierre Gasly following the Mexican’s solid start to the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Perez was out-qualified 20-2 by Max Verstappen in his first year with the team in 2021, but managed five podium finishes as well as a victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

He also played an influential role in the Dutchman’s title success as he fended off Sir Lewis Hamilton in Turkey and Abu Dhabi, all of which earned him another season with the Milton Keynes side for 2022.

The 32-year-old was on for a podium after Verstappen’s non-finish in Bahrain this year before he suffered an identical failure to his team-mate, and was denied victory in Saudi Arabia by a horribly-timed Safety Car having taken pole for the first time in his career after 218 previous race entries.

He then sealed second behind Verstappen in Imola, bringing home the team’s first one-two since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, epitomising the outstanding job he has done so far this year. 

Gasly was released by Red Bull midway through the 2019 season after he was out-qualified 11 times by Verstappen, and managed a best finish of fourth while the 24-year-old won two races and made five rostrum appearances.

Since then, the Frenchman has taken three podiums and a race win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, establishing himself as one of the most consistent drivers in the field after out-qualifying rookie team-mate Yuki Tsunoda 21-1 and achieving 15 points finishes last season.

One of those finishes was a podium alongside Perez in Baku, and the 25-year-old has another year left on his contract after the completion of this season.

He unequivocally stated that, by 2014, “we either make the move to Red Bull, or not,” leading adviser Dr Helmut Marko to affirm that the team “don’t want” to lose him.

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But van de Gint would be astonished if Red Bull replace Perez with Gasly considering the fabulous performances the Mexican has been putting in so far this year.

“If Perez continues to perform as he does now, it would be madness to replace him,” he warned.

“You have to be honest enough to say that he is a bit slower than Verstappen, who is clearly the number 1.

“It is very clear who the boss is, but Perez has done a great job and they are a great team.”

2017 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winner Ho-Pin Tung indicates that Red Bull have the perfect dynamic at their team, with Verstappen contesting the Drivers’ Standings, while Perez helps them secure constructors’ success.

“At Red Bull, this is already the ideal lineup. You can’t go for the drivers’ title with two drivers, unless you are so dominant that you win every race as a team,” he added.

“So if you have a driver like Perez who is very good but lacks the last bit to dominate the other driver, that is a good situation for the team.”

Red Bull’s reliability issues have set them back in the early going in 2022, but their one-two in Imola puts them within 11 points of Ferrari, who suffered a nightmare afternoon at their home race.