Amid a swirl of rumours questioning Sergio Perez’s future with the Red Bull Formula One team, despite a contract that runs until 2024, the Team Principal of sister team AlphaTauri has offered a candid perspective in an interview with sport.de and RTL/ntv.
CEO Peter Bayer acknowledged the difficulty Perez faces in keeping pace with teammate Max Verstappen, whose confidence and singular focus on racing Bayer describes as unmatched. Verstappen’s dedication, he explains, makes him a “racing machine” who sets a high bar for every team member.
Defending Perez’s performance
Despite the criticism, Bayer defends Perez, pointing out that the Mexican is currently second in the world championship standings – no mean feat. He believes Perez’s performance was commendable given the dominance of Verstappen.
Verstappen has “a level of self-confidence that I don’t see in any other driver,” says Bayer.
“He also has such a focus on this racing. To be honest, he doesn’t care at all about all the vermilion surrounding it. He comes in early in the morning and works all day , goes home, goes to bed. So that’s a racing machine, a racing machine.”
“It’s very difficult to keep up with such a top driver as second in the team. You shouldn’t forget that Sergio is currently still second in the world championship,”
“So it’s not like he’s somewhere in tenth or twelfth place.”
Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull family, this time with AlphaTauri, has brought valuable experience to the junior team. Bayer is confident in Ricciardo’s contribution and confirms the planned driver line-up for AlphaTauri in 2024, with Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda at the helm.
Speculation of a possible change
While Bayer is confident in the announced line-up, he also sounds a note of caution. Formula One is an area of intense competition and teams need to be agile in their strategies. He suggests that if any of the teams experience significant performance issues midway through the season, changes similar to those seen this year could be possible.
“We have an agreement according to which it is relatively clear that Daniel will drive with us next year. Daniel and Yuki Tsunoda are our two drivers for 2024. And today I am also assuming that Sergio will drive the Red Bull will go next year.”
Ricciardo’s prospects at Red Bull
Bayer’s comments leave the door open to a scenario where Ricciardo could be called up to Red Bull in 2024 if Perez fails to resolve ongoing performance issues. While this possibility is not in the current plan, it underlines the ever-dynamic nature of F1 team composition and the need for teams to remain competitive.
“Of course, there’s no need to hide that, Formula 1 is probably the quintessence, the pure definition of competition. Let’s put it this way: I’m 100 percent convinced that the driver pairing at the beginning of the season will be as just announced: Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda…”
But: “If there are massive performance problems with one of the two teams by the summer break, I think you can assume that we will react again, like we did this year.”
The state of affairs within the Red Bull racing teams is a testament to the high-stakes environment of Formula One. While Perez’s position appears stable for the time being, and Ricciardo is set to bring his experience to AlphaTauri, the reality of racing could see a reshuffle of drivers as teams navigate the sport’s competitive landscape.
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