Formula 1: Sergio Perez performance reignites Red Bull debate

There have been calls for Red Bull to replace Sergio Perez for the 2025 Formula 1 season, and his performance in Imola only further supports that opinion.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 / Kym Illman/GettyImages

Sergio Perez did not have the best of weekends at Imola Circuit after qualifying in P11 and missing out on Q3. He made up a bit of ground during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but had hoped to make up more, and his performance could be considered rather poor.

Perez started on the hard tires and tried to go for as long a stint as possible before switching to the faster medium tires in the last portion of the race. While all drivers in front of Perez were on the hard tires, the Mexican driver was not that much quicker.

While it was not Red Bull's best weekend, Perez's performance came as a surprise, considering teammate Max Verstappen stayed in front the whole race and managed to keep himself in front of McLaren's Lando Norris until the finish line. The Dutchman also struggled a bit with his tires, but he still maintained a mighty fast pace.

Sergio Perez at serious risk?

The 34-year-old opened the 2024 season in strong standing with four podium finishes in five races. However, the gap between himself and Verstappen has been rather large for quite some time now. Despite finishing on the podium regularly, he is usually several seconds behind his teammate, and Sunday's race did not see him anywhere near the podium places.

Regarding Perez’s future, given how good of a car Red Bull have produced the last couple of seasons, he is simply not doing well enough to justify a contract extension. Like this year, he started strong and faded last year as well.

Perez's future has been in doubt for over a year now, especially with rumors of Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. being considered by Red Bull to replace him. His current contract is due to be up at the end of the year.

In Imola, both Mercedes drivers were able to build a big enough gap over Perez and hold a consistently better pace throughout the race.

It got to the point where George Russell was able to pit a second time, get the fastest lap on fresh medium tires, and still finish in front of Perez. With Mercedes struggling mightily this season, Perez losing out on overall pace to both Russell and Lewis Hamilton is a terrible look.

After the race, Perez spoke about how things went.

"I think we sort of knew that was the best we could get. We obviously knew that the hard was going to be very difficult initially, but we were hoping for a safety car at the right point that potentially could put us back in the fight."

Sergio Perez

This should not be the mindset while having the fastest car on the grid, even on a down weekend. We have seen how cutthroat Red Bull have been when it comes to axing drivers both from the main team and sister team RB.

Whether it's the role he played in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which helped Verstappen claim his first world championship, or the sponsorship he brings, the treatment toward Perez has seemingly been a little bit different than it was in those other instances. But how much longer will that last?

Formula 1: Major celebrity notably absent from Miami Grand Prix. Formula 1: Major celebrity notably absent from Miami Grand Prix. dark. Next

Additionally, Perez has now lost second place in the driver standings, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc taking over following his third place finish. Perez is also at risk of being passed by Norris and Sainz. His performance this past weekend speaks volumes, and it will be interesting to see if it continues into the Monaco Grand Prix, which he won in 2022.