“I find it a bit unfair” — Verstappen comments on speculation regarding F1 2024 teammate

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Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

With Sergio Perez suffering from a continued dip in form and a succession of poor results speculation amongst the paddock, media and fans is mounting as to how likely it is he will continue to partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing next season. Perez has only stood on the podium once since the resumption of proceedings following the summer break. Pair this with two DNFs in recent times including last weekend at his home race in Mexico City and you can see why eyebrows are being raised. Lewis Hamilton is bearing down on Perez in the drivers championship and given the Mexican has the fastest car on the grid at his disposal, questions regarding his future are coming thick and fast.

While the RB19 has been all-conquering in 2023, this is not to say that Milton Keynes-based Red Bull Racing will enjoy the same superiority next season. If the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari or indeed the currently resurgent McLaren can put up a tougher fight in 2024 then Red Bull may need to depend on more than just three-time world champion Verstappen to bring home the Constructors’ Championship. After all, an eye-watering sum of money is on the line for the winning constructor. Fan favourite Daniel Ricciardo is now looming large in the background as the Australian has returned to racing with Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri – now even more so as he managed to outqualify Perez at the Mexican GP in the markedly inferior AT04.

Verstappen had to face questions from the press at Thursday’s press conference at the Brazilian Grand Prix on exactly this subject, while seated alongside his former teammate Ricciardo, who he was paired with between 2016 and 2018. The Dutchman said he has no problem if either driver is in the second RB20 in 2024.

“I always had a great relationship with Daniel when we were team mates – and when, of course, we weren’t, but at the same time also I have a great relationship with Checo

One would hope that Verstappen has a good deal of respect for his Mexican team-mate given the contribution Perez made to him sealing the 2021 world drivers title and indeed, the Dutchman’s comments reflect this:

“They have been great teammates and it’s not up to me at the end of the day to make these kinds of decisions because I’m very focused on my own performance. So if it’s Checo next year, then great. I have had a great work and working relationship with him, but also personally, I think he’s a great guy. And if it’s Daniel then also we will get along fine and we’ll have a great time.”

Ricciardo meanwhile was quick to distance himself from the possibility of being back behind the wheel of a Red Bull next year, saying:

“Obviously all the stuff around my contract next year has been related to AlphaTauri,” he said. “So I would say that’s honestly as far as that goes.”

Leaving aside the sort of answers you’d expect from a media trained Formula One driver you’d have to imagine the Australian doesn’t have at least one eye on proceedings at Red Bull, but says he is happy where he is and focused on the job at hand with AlphaTauri, commenting:

“Having a weekend like Mexico is just definitely good for the soul.”

With just three Grands Prix remaining in the current season, the rumour mill in the paddock is primed to kick off regarding next year, but now the onus must be on Perez to silence his critics and cement his place at Red Bull for another year, even if his team principal Christian Horner continues to insist there are no plans to replace him.

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool