Why doesn’t Red Bull renew the agreement with Sergio Perez? The Mexican is the only teammate of Max Verstappen who has managed to win a Grand Prix in the six seasons which are characterized by the strong presence of the Dutch driver, protégé of Helmut Marko and Christian Horner.
Checo is third in the Drivers’ World Championship with 104 points and if the two title contenders (Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton) are out of reach, the game with all the others seems very open, with Lando Norris (McLaren) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) all other than willing to give him open field.
Perez is entering a … closed box: the team, in fact, is built in the image and likeness of the Dutchman. In Red Bull, waiting for new young talents they are breeding, at the end of last year they decided to suspend the rookie policy (leaving it at AlphaTauri with the sour Yuki Tsunoda) to aspire to the Constructors title with a driver who was in immediately able to realize a technical superiority that had to derive from the RB16B, the last single-seater of Adrian Newey.
Strengthened by the fourth place he won last year with Racing Point (he won his first GP at Sakhir), when the Silverstone team realized that he was given the welcome to make room for Sebastian Vettel, Perez aimed high , finding a chink in Milton Keynes where they were looking at Nico Hulkenberg, the eternal trumpet by everything and everyone.
He does not excel in the single qualifying lap, but Sergio is a racing “hound” with a fundamental characteristic: he knows how to be kind with the tires and his stints are always among the longest, so he often manages to save a pit stop to build comebacks. important., which are worth heavy points for the Constructors.
In the hybrid era, Mercedes never gave up on the team standings, but the 44-point track that Red Bull managed to trace with the Star is also thanks to the Mexican who alternates outstanding performances and less irreproachable races, as in the last GP of Austria, where he was in charge of doing more machinations than looking for the best result.
At Spielberg he twice put Charles Leclerc in the sand with Ferrari, to reply to the Monegasque who had challenged him outside and twice he was punished with a five-second penalty by the sports commissioners.
But why so much vehemence towards the Monegasque? In the paddock there are those who swear that Charles is a bit in a state of fibrillation with Ferrari. Undisputed and indisputable talent, he is suffering from not being able to challenge Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamiltom on equal terms, having to settle for a mediocre Red for the second year in a row.
John Elkann and Mattia Binotto indicated 2022 as the year of the turning point for the Cavallino: with the change of rules and the adoption of ground-effect single-seaters, Ferrari has the great opportunity to make a comeback. But will it really be like this? Charles’ first statements after trying next year’s car on the (old) simulator seemed very buttoned up, from which the enthusiasm for something new did not burst, but the realism of those who must face a great change with many unknowns.
And this may have made me want to look around, although there is a contract with Ferrari valid until the end of 2024, especially as Carlos Sainz, a purchase wanted by Binotto, is winning the team’s esteem for the ability to get close. in Leclerc with method, work and determination.
Charles last year had ousted Sebastian Vettel as the first Ferrari driver with the results, while this year the Monegasque does not feel this investiture, for an absolutely equal treatment with Sainz. And then the market sirens suggest that there may have been some contact with Red Bull to find out if there was the will on the part of Helmut Marko to build a real “dream team”.
While the idea would be tantalizing on paper, it’s hard to believe that the staff who invested in Vestappen as a goose that lays the golden eggs want to break a system that works. We have the feeling that these are just positioning games, perhaps possible due to performance-related exit clauses from Maranello, given that there is less and less talk of third place in the Constructors as a priority for the Prancing Horse.
Certainly a Verstappen-Leclerc duo would have the effect of a bomb to respond perhaps to that Mercedes that Hamilton-Russell will propose. But are we sure that a market that seems sleepy can be literally revolutionized by a sensational hit? We have strong doubts: in the end Charles will do well to find out what the ground effect Ferrari is worth, while Perez will be able to deserve a renewal, without fear of being knocked out again, at the end of his best F1 season.