Formula 1: Red Bull development hints Sergio Perez is on the hot seat

The fact that Red Bull have had talks with Carlos Sainz Jr. for the 2025 Formula 1 season shows that Sergio Perez's seat is far from safe.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Sergio Perez's hot start to the 2023 Formula 1 season led some pundits to believe that he could truly challenge then-two-time reigning world champion teammate Max Verstappen.

But in the 18 races that were run after the two were level with two wins each, Verstappen stood on the top step of the podium on 17 occasions. Perez only tallied three runner-up finishes during that stretch.

Perez, like most of the grid, entered the 2024 season without a contract to compete beyond its conclusion. He did manage to stay in second place in the driver standings last year, but even a doubled point total would not have been good enough to keep Verstappen from winning a third world title.

Sergio Perez out at Red Bull?

The 34-year-old Mexican has had a strong start to the 2024 season, recording three runner-up finishes in four races to find himself again in second place behind his teammate in the standings. However, there has long been talk about his job security -- or lack thereof -- for 2025, and a recent development indicates that he is still far from safe.

Red Bull director Helmut Marko revealed that the team have had talks with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr., who is set to be replaced by current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton next year, about joining the team in 2025, implying that Perez is no lock for a return. But he also voiced his support for Perez amid his strong start to the 2024 season.

Marko also revealed what has long been speculated, and that is the Audi have high interest in Sainz, who remains the only winner other than Verstappen in the last 22 races. Verstappen, winner of three of the season's first four races, remains under contract with Red Bull through 2028.

Given how many drivers don't have contracts for 2025, Audi likely need to act now to get the driver/drivers they want for 2026, and Sainz has been considered their top target since early last year. The team's current two drivers, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, are both in the final seasons of their respective Sauber contracts.

Marko admitted that the Milton Keynes-based team cannot match the lucrative deal that Audi are said to have offered the 29-year-old Spaniard. But the talks have indeed been had, and it appears as though the decision may very well be up to the ousted Ferrari driver, illustrating that the team are not fully committed to any sort of extension for Perez quite yet.

Formula 1: 5 drivers at risk of losing their seats after 2024. Formula 1: 5 drivers at risk of losing their seats after 2024. dark. Next

Either way, however, the second Red Bull seat should be in good hands moving forward, given the impressive form of both drivers to start the season.