Sergio Perez should ditch Red Bull and replace Lewis Hamilton

Sergio Perez cut Max Verstappen's advantage in the Drivers' Championship to just six points after winning in Azerbaijan.

Despite Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff having assured the media that a new deal will be signed eventually, the seven-time World Champion’s future remains a huge talking point, especially given how big a seat he’d be vacating if he were to leave Mercedes.

Unless something drastic happens, Hamilton isn’t leaving the Silver Arrows anytime soon, with the Briton planning on signing a new multi-year deal.

The expectation that Hamilton will sign a new deal does quash reports from Italian media stating that Charles Leclerc has been secretly talking to Mercedes, something the Monegasque and Wolff have also denied.

However, Wolff did openly admit during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that there will eventually come a day when they do have to replace the 103-time race winner, whom most expect to retire at the end of 2025.

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Whilst Leclerc is contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2024 and Lando Norris is tied to McLaren until the end of 2025, what about Sergio Perez?

The Mexican is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2024 as it stands; however, ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher shared that the 33-year-old’s future is being discussed amongst the paddock.

Perez has proven himself to be an exceptional driver for Red Bull since he made the move to Milton Keynes in 2021, with him arguably being the first team-mate of Max Verstappen’s to not collapse under the Dutchman’s stature.

More than that, though, the Mexican is a team player and someone who does put the team first, something which has been evident throughout his F1 career.

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Whilst he deserves to stay at Red Bull given his current performances, a switch to Mercedes would certainly be fascinating.

Yes, it’s very unlikely, yet also fascinating to discuss.

Perez somewhat offers the full package, he’s proven that he can put the team first, he’s proven that he can win races but most importantly, he’s proven that he is incredibly fast.

The Red Bull driver has built in stature himself almost every season he’s been in F1, to the point where he is now seen very much as a title contender.

Even if he wasn’t in the title fight, Perez remains as one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and at worst, the best number two.

So if he were to suddenly find himself at Mercedes, the Mexican could arguably fill any role, whether that be as a team leader or as an experienced number two to George Russell.

Perez, of course, has used Mercedes power units before whilst at Racing Point/Force India, so may have some connections still amongst the German manufacturer.

Wherever Perez finds himself in the future, the likelihood is that his experience will be vital, especially his understanding on how to beat Verstappen.

Perez claimed victory ahead of Verstappen at the Baku City Circuit after capitalising on a Safety Car, which was released seconds after the reigning World Champion left the pits.

As a result, Perez inherited the race lead from the Dutchman due to having lost less time during his pit-stop, something which was interestingly noted by team principal Christian Horner after the race.

“Well done Max. Checo [Perez] got a little lucky with the safety car there, but it’s a long, long season and very good points today. Great team result, well done,” Horner told Verstappen over the team radio.

Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz found Horner’s message to Verstappen very interesting, with him pondering whether it was Horner’s way of telling the 25-year-old that “you’re still our man for the championship”.

Kravitz stated after the race on ‘Ted’s Notebook’ that: “I thought the Perez radio message was interesting, when he said, ‘Look, guys, we are still in the fight’.

“It sounded like Perez was talking to his engineer and mechanics only, and not the rest of the team. He was saying, ‘We are still in the fight, we can’t have issues like we did in Melbourne and we can still get this championship’.

READ: Toto Wolff defends Max Verstappen after row with George Russell

“But then you’ve got Horner on the pit wall, with what sounded like reassuring radio messages to Max, saying, ‘Never mind, Checo got lucky with the safety car, but it’s a long, long season’.

“That, to my ears and to anyone reasonable, sounds like Horner saying to Max, ‘Look, don’t worry, you’re still our man for the championship’. Checo is thinking, ‘Hang on, I’ll fight tooth and nail to be the man to fight for the championship’.”

It was certainly an odd radio message which does lead to a potentially crucial question, would Perez even want to sign an extension with Red Bull should it appear like Verstappen is favoured?