After a disappointing start to his Qatar Grand Prix weekend, Sergio Perez’s season is fizzling out in a worrying fashion, reigniting the debate about his short-term Red Bull future and opening up the conversation about potential replacements on the grid.
Checo is contracted with Red Bull for 2024 and while team principal Christian Horner has been adamant that the Mexican driver will see out his contract with the team, his performances are becoming a major point of concern for the Milton Keynes-based team.
The most touted potential successor for Perez when he does depart the Red Bull set-up has been Lando Norris with the 23-year-old already having secured four second-place finishes in 2023 and pushing Max Verstappen close on multiple occasions.
However, while Red Bull’s interest in Norris is legitimate, Horner has voiced some concerns about the effect his arrival could have on the team’s dynamics. Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this season about the idea of having two ‘number one drivers’ in the team, the 49-year-old made his feelings clear.
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“If you put two extreme alphas in a team it’ll tear the team apart,” Horner explained. “So you always want to achieve I think the right balance. That’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned.”
With Verstappen currently showing no signs of needing another potential race-winning driver alongside him to pick up the slack, if Red Bull are confident that they can maintain their advantage over the rest of their rivals then there is no need to risk upsetting the balance by bringing Norris in to challenge the Dutchman.
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Instead, Red Bull could be persuaded to look towards Oscar Piastri. McLaren’s star rookie has been one of the breakthrough talents of the season, finishing on the front row in the sprint race in Belgium, notching his maiden podium finish in Japan and then pipping Verstappen to the victory in the sprint in Qatar.
While he is tied down with McLaren until 2026 after signing a new long-term contract this summer, by the time Perez’s stint with Red Bull comes to an end in 2024 the young Aussie may be prepared to take the leap.
Piastri is already providing fierce competition for fellow Red Bull target Norris in his rookie season, showcasing talent not dissimilar to that of the 23-year-old. Adding to that, the Australian driver is a much more mellowed personality and would be unlikely to cause fireworks with Verstappen during his early years with the team.
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