Perez facing Belgian GP ‘ultimatum’ to keep F1 seat

Mon, 8 July 2024, 09:01

Jul.8 (GMM) Sources are reporting that a specific performance clause in the new contract signed by Sergio Perez could trigger a major reshuffle affecting both of Red Bull’s Formula 1 teams.

Perez’s post-contract signing performance slump continued with a vengeance at Silverstone, where he spun out of Q1 and could then finish no higher than P17 on Sunday.

For now at least, while admitting that the Mexican is under rising pressure, the team’s F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko is backing Perez to improve.

“We expect Sergio to pull himself together again,” the 81-year-old told Sport1 after the British GP.

“He has already managed to get out of a crisis several times in the past,” Marko added. “Any other driver would not look good against Max either. Max is in the form of his life and still getting better.”

Nonetheless, authoritative media sources – including De Telegraaf newspaper and Sky Italia – are suddenly divulging details of an apparent “ultimatum” that 34-year-old Perez is now facing.

Essentially, if Perez is not within 100 points of teammate Verstappen’s tally by the Belgian GP – the last race before the summer break – Red Bull will contractually be able to terminate his contract.

Currently, the gap between them is a whopping 137 points.

“De Telegraaf understands from insiders that (Christian) Horner and Perez had an extensive conversation before Silverstone, during which the driver was told he needs to perform better before the summer break in order to keep his seat,” the Dutch newspaper reports.

Compounding the problem for Perez is that Red Bull’s contract with Liam Lawson, who will test Perez’s car during a ‘filming day’ at Silverstone this week, guarantees the New Zealander a race seat by 2025.

An imminent reshuffle is therefore a very real possibility, with 34-year-old Daniel Ricciardo either promoted from the junior team RB or dropped altogether. Marko repeated his view at Silverstone that “all the shareholders” of Red Bull agree that RB must return to being a “junior team”.

“There are still three races until the summer break,” said the Austrian. “We will then sit down together and make decisions that go in this direction.”

It seems a near-certainty that Lawson, 22, will be handed a race seat. “We will not release him,” confirmed Marko, “because he will get another chance with us.”

Amid the likely shakeups, Perez insists the extra pressure on his shoulders is not making his performance slump even deeper.

“No, no, that has nothing to do with it,” he insists. “I have to find the form that I know I can have. On Friday we had a very positive day,” Perez added. “Everything looked good.”

Perez says he has not been told by Horner or Marko that he is likely to be dropped.

“No, nothing,” he said. “I have a contract and I am fully focused on my job so that I can get back to form as soon as possible. It’s not something that is distracting me or anything like that.

“Now is a good time to rest and get back into shape, and hopefully that will happen in time for Hungary and Belgium – two big weekends. I think there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are not far from unlocking two or three tenths which would change a lot of things,” Perez concluded.

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