Marko: Perez “definitely the best option” for Red Bull in 2025 if he maintains current F1 form

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Co-author: Chiara Martin

2024 was a year that started with Lewis Hamilton taking everyone by surprise announcing he will be joining Ferrari next season, raising even bigger speculation around more than one seat.

If Mercedes is left with one place to fill and Carlos Sainz is in talks to find a new team, things at Red Bull don’t seem so settled as well, with Sergio Perez’s contract expiring at the end of this season.

A seat, the one alongside Max Verstappen, that has more than a few possible suitors. 

Nonetheless, Perez’s excellent start to 2024 has put him in pole position to retain the drive for next year.

“It’s clear that ‘Checo’ is currently having his best season since he joined us,” Helmut Marko explained in an interview with Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung.

“If he keeps up performances like those in qualifying in Japan, then he’s definitely the best option for Red Bull in 2025.”

The Mexican has finished P2 in three of the four races we have seen so far and came within 0.066s of beating teammate Verstappen to pole in an impressive qualifying performance in Suzuka.

At the same event last year, he was over 0.7s behind his stablemate on the Saturday and was generally nowhere on pace throughout the weekend.

“He’s a team player and has now realised that the radically different path he chose last year in terms of set-up was the wrong one. Now the car is closer to Max’s set-up, and that helps him.”

A few spots down the grid there is another Red Bull driver that has been making quite an impression in these opening rounds: Yuki Tsunoda.

Finishing in the points in Australia and at his home race in Japan, the 23-year-old is doing a better job than his more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo at present. He leads 4-0 in qualifying, too.

“Yuki had a great start to the season and is no longer the hothead he once was. It’s only been four races, so it’s too early to say much. But he’s got Daniel [Ricciardo] under control, even though it was close in Japan.”

Ricciardo could be considered a possible candidate for a comeback to Milton Keynes, although his performance so far hasn’t been brilliant over a single lap this season. 

However, Marko says the team will wait and see how things play out at RB as the season goes on before making any potential decisions regarding that team’s line-up.

“The expectation was that he needs to be clearly faster than Yuki if he hopes to secure a seat at Red Bull. That hasn’t been the case, although, as mentioned, it was close. We’ll see how it develops.”

A driver who undoubtedly started off very strong this season, taking a brilliant win in Melbourne ahead of his teammate, is Carlos Sainz.

“We’re talking to him, he’s having his strongest season in F1, but he has a very lucrative offer from Audi that we can’t match or beat,” explained Marko.

“We know him from the Toro Rosso days, even back then he drove with Max [in 2015 and early 2016]. But it really hurt him back then when we backed Verstappen at Red Bull and not him.”

In the RB Junior Academy since 2019, New Zealander Liam Lawson has sparked the interest of the team as well following his excellent performances when standing in for Daniel Ricciardo last year.

Marko admits they would like to evaluate him again in F1 this year. Unless a driver from one of the other teams in the lower part of the grid gets booted before the end of the campaign, that seems unlikely right now.

“We of course have Liam Lawson as a reserve driver, a strong driver in the team, who contractually has the right to drive for another team if he doesn’t get a cockpit with us in 2025.

“Regarding that, it would naturally be exciting for us to see him in Formula 1 this year to get a clearer picture. But that’s a complex issue, and we’ll have to see how it progresses.”