Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Sergio Perez has revealed that Red Bull boss Christian Horner and advisor Helmut Marko reassured him ‘not to look elsewhere’ and confirmed that his seat with the team was safe early in the 2021 Formula One season. Perez’s position for 2023 is already under scrutiny from outside of the team with Pierre Gasly being tipped to take the Red Bull second seat.
Perez earned his contract with Red Bull for the 2022 season midway through his debut season with the Milton Keynes-based team.
Speaking to RaceFans the Mexican confirmed that both Horner and Marko told him to not look elsewhere for an F1 seat, as they plan to keep him on alongside world champion Verstappen.
When asked if he was worried about losing his spot for 2022, Perez said: “No, I wasn’t worried at all.
“I mean, at this stage of my career, it’s hard to get worried about not getting a seat. I think we matched really well, really quickly within the Red Bull family.
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“Very early on, Helmut and Christian told me to not look anywhere else because they wanted to carry on with me.”
Despite counting on Red Bull’s support for 2022, the team are being tipped to eventually replace him with Gasly, who spent 12 races in their car in 2019 before being demoted back to their second team AlphaTauri (then Toro Rosso).
Gasly hinted himself that he may be given a return to the Red Bull camp in 2023, saying: “I don’t know what they’re going to plan. They’re saying that probably in 2023 there could be an option.
“I’ll try to put myself in the best position for that, but it’s a discussion that we know we’re going to have next year with Red Bull.”
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In addition to Gasly’s optimistic comments, the Frenchman has received backing from 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who tipped Red Bull to bring back in the AlphaTauri man to replace Perez.
Speaking on Sky Sports F1, the former Mercedes man believes it is only a matter of time before Gasly lines up alongside Verstappen.
He said: “Pierre is really, really awesome, to the extent where you are surprised they don’t take him back into the mother team, into Red Bull Racing.
“But you will never know if he’s able to perform under the pressure of Red Bull Racing. That’s the big question mark which is left, and that’s why they didn’t put him back in.
“But at AlphaTauri he’s doing a really phenomenal job.”
As well as having the backing of Red Bull bosses, it seems Perez’s team-mate Verstappen is also a big fan of the Mexican – especially after the role he played in the 24-year-old’s title crowning in Abu Dhabi.
Despite picking up his maiden F1 championship at the season finale last month, Verstappen spent most of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix way off the pace of title rival Lewis Hamilton.
As a result, it was in fact team-mate Perez who put in the hard work to fend off the Briton in the early stages.
He put in a battling performance at Yas Marina to keep Hamilton at bay and frustrate the seven-time world champion, which made it easier for Verstappen to eventually catch up to the Mercedes man late on.
Following Perez’s work in Abu Dhabi Verstappen was heard singing his praises, describing him as a ‘legend’ over the Red Bull team radio.
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