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ANALYSIS: Why Red Bull decided to stick with Perez – and what it means for the driver market

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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Red Bull have completed another piece of the driver market jigsaw by rewarding Sergio Perez with a new two-year contract for 2025 – which begs two key questions. Why have they stuck, rather than twist? And what does this mean for the rest of the grid?

Red Bull stuck with what they know

Perez, who joined Red Bull as Max Verstappen’s team mate back in 2021, did much of the work to seal a contract renewal in the first five races of the season, finishing second three times and third once.

READ MORE: Perez to continue as Red Bull driver after signing new two-year contract extension

That wasn’t quite the form he delivered at the same point last year – where he won two of the first four races. But the Mexican, 34, was doing exactly what Red Bull needed him to do – back up Verstappen and ensure Red Bull were well set to defend the constructors’ championship.

His form tailed off a little after that, the Mexican finishing fourth in Miami, and he could only recover to eighth in Imola after missing out on Q3. Then in Monaco, he was bumped out in Q1 and retired after a first-lap clash.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20

Sergio Perez has signed a two-year contract extension to stay at Red Bull

Nonetheless, Red Bull believe that he delivers the all-round package they need alongside Verstappen. He has shown decent pace – even if lacking consistency – and has a harmonious relationship with his team mate.

Red Bull are still leading the constructors’ championship – even if the gap is much smaller than they would like (24 points) – and they retain hope that Perez will up his level to the point where they can stay there.

The team evaluated in-form Carlos Sainz, who has won one race and taken three podiums so far this year, but conversations never accelerated to a point where they got serious.

READ MORE: Horner calls on Red Bull to ‘understand weaknesses’ after challenging Monaco GP weekend

They also decided that despite Yuki Tsunoda’s remarkable start to 2024, he wasn’t ready to step up to Red Bull – nor was his team mate Daniel Ricciardo or their reserve driver Liam Lawson.

With all that in mind, they decided continuity and unity between team mates was the best option – and thus offered Perez an extended stay.

A two-year deal will take Perez though to the end of 2026 with Red Bull, but there are likely to be performance clauses in the deal that could be triggered at the end of next year.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen

Red Bull believe he delivers the all-round package they need alongside Verstappen

Another door formally closes for Sainz

Sainz had hoped Red Bull would recall him to the family, given his impressive form so far this year – but with that door now closed and Mercedes not interested either, the Spaniard faces a choice between Williams and Sauber/Audi.

Both projects offer Sainz stability, the role of team leader and the opportunity to lead the rebuild of either a former F1 giant or a newbie manufacturer – but both also mean a trip towards the back of the grid and a fight to get points rather than podiums or wins.

ANALYSIS: What next for Esteban Ocon and Alpine after his exit?

Williams are pushing hard to convince Sainz to join Alex Albon in what would be one of the most impressive line-ups on the 2025 grid. If the Spaniard declines, Bottas is believed to be the frontrunner to get that seat.

Like Williams, Sauber/Audi are pushing hard to secure Sainz on a multi-year deal, alongside Nico Hulkenberg, but if that doesn’t work out, leading candidates are believed to be Ocon and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: Third placed qualifier Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari speaks to

Carlos Sainz faces a choice between Williams and Sauber/Audi for a seat in 2025

Elsewhere, Haas will press on with sorting their line-up for 2025 with Ferrari junior Ollie Bearman expected to get one seat and Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon the top-two on the shortlist for the second seat.

Alpine are relaxed about their driver line-up, with one seat free after they parted ways with Ocon. They are keen to retain Pierre Gasly for next season with reserve Jack Doohan in a strong position to earn promotion. Bottas is also understood to be in contention – while Mick Schumacher, who is racing for Alpine in WEC, is an outsider for a seat.

DRIVER MARKET: The F1 race winners vying for a seat with Haas for 2025

RB are pondering their line-up, with Tsunoda making a convincing argument to retain his seat while Daniel Ricciardo is believed to be in a good position to stay put, too.

It thus remains unclear where Liam Lawson fits in, after Red Bull Motorsport Adviser Helmut Marko said he would find him a seat in 2025 after a strong performance standing in for the injured Ricciardo last year.

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