RACE DEBRIEF

    Sergio Perez said in Austria that he hopes to open talks with Red Bull over a contract beyond 2021 soon, as team mate Max Verstappen praised the Mexican for being easy to work with, and for helping the team maximise their results this year.

    Perez is on a one-year deal with Red Bull having joined from Racing Point over the winter – while team mate Verstappen has signed with the team until the end of 2023 – but given his run of solid results including a win in Azerbaijan and P3 ahead of Valtteri Bottas in France, is a contract extension looming?

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    He replied on Thursday ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix: “There will be some downtime where we can speak about it and hopefully it doesn’t take too long, because I don’t have a good experience when you take that long.

    “But I see it as a natural thing; once you are comfortable with the team working with them and the team working with you it is something that should happen naturally, happen very smoothly, and we should just take it out of the season and just focus on the right stuff.”

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    Perez snatched the final podium place off Bottas in France to give Red Bull a healthy – but not unsurmountable – lead in the standings

    Perez was alluding to his seven-season stint with Force India and Racing Point, which ended with a shock announcement in September 2020 that he would leave the team at the end of the season, after Sebastian Vettel was hired to replace him.

    As for Verstappen, leading the Championship going into the team’s pair of home races, he had words of praise for Perez ahead of Round 8 of the 2021 season and said he wanted that relationship to continue.

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    “Of course, I knew Checo before – not as a team mate, so it’s a little bit different – but I think so far it’s been great and to be able to work together now up front to get the best result for the team is what you want,” said the Dutchman.

    “For sure, I would want that to continue. And yes, he’s a great team mate and we can have a lot of fun as well; we don’t always need to talk about cars and set-up and stuff.”

    Sergio Pérez 'close to maximising my performances' with Red Bull

    Red Bull have a 37-point lead over Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship too and Verstappen added that Perez’s presence, along with the competitive RB16B, is going to be crucial in ensuring they have a chance to fight for both titles this season.

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    “Now, we have the car to really fight them and of course then it’s super important to be up there with two cars and that’s exactly what we have been doing now in Baku and Paul Ricard, so, it’s going to be crucial for the constructors’ [championship] as well to keep this up until the end of the year,” said Verstappen.

    In the Drivers' Championship, Verstappen's lead is much slimmer; he's just 12 points ahead of rival Lewis Hamilton – who revealed he's also looking to extend his Mercedes contract – ahead of this weekend's race in Austria.