Christian Horner has given Sergio Perez more cause for concern regarding his long-term Red Bull future, suggesting that the reigning world champions have options ‘internally and externally’ as they decide on Max Verstappen’s team-mate for 2025 and beyond.
Perez endured an initially impressive start to the 2023 campaign, taking race wins in two of the first four rounds to announce himself as a title challenger. Unfortunately for the 33-year-old, this was where his year peaked, and he failed to win another Grand Prix for the remainder of the season.
An extremely challenging second half of the campaign sparked a debate regarding whether or not Red Bull would keep him beyond the end of the season, although three strong performances to end the year ensured that he will see out the remainder of his current contract, which expires in 2024.
Discussing the team’s options for the 2025 season and beyond, Horner told Sky Sports News: “Well as a team you wanna field the most competitive pairing that you can have and you want the right dynamic in the team. And Max and Checo have been a tremendously successful pairing.
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“Checo in his three years with us has finished fourth, third and second so he’s on a good trajectory. Daniel [Ricciardo] is well known to us, it’s great to have him back in the Red Bull fold and, of course, everything is open for 2025 onwards. So for us to have options both internally and also externally is no bad place to be.”
This open approach to driver selection beyond the end of Perez’s contract will come as good news to the likes of Ricciardo and Lando Norris, both of whom have been heavily linked with the Mexican driver’s seat.
Ricciardo was drafted into the AlphaTauri team for round 11 of the 2023 season onwards after Helmut Marko lost patience with winter recruit Nyck de Vries, ousting him from the Faenza-based outfit ahead of his home race in the Netherlands.
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Norris, meanwhile, has been on Red Bull’s radar for some time and enjoyed the strongest season of his career to date in 2023, claiming seven podium finishes, six of which came on the second step. The major stumbling block with the 24-year-old is his McLaren contract, which doesn’t expire until the end of the 2025 campaign.
Discussing the possibility of Norris joining the team as Perez’s replacement, Marko told Kleine Zeitung: “He has a contract with McLaren until 2025, but he is by far the strongest of the young drivers. His youthful nature would also suit him best to Red Bull. And it’s no secret that Max and he are good friends.”
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