Formula 1: Sergio Perez rumor officially brought to an end

Sergio Perez is obviously not going to be replaced ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season, despite a 2023 season that seemed to feature a new rumor every week.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Formula 1 / Ciancaphoto Studio/GettyImages

The 2023 Formula 1 season began with certain individuals actually tricking themselves into believing that Sergio Perez had what it took to dethrone Max Verstappen as Red Bull's top driver and ultimately be crowned world champion.

But since the pair split the season's first four races, Verstappen went on to win 17 out of 18 races. Perez went winless during that stretch and only managed three runner-up finishes.

That stretch for Perez resulted in endless rumors about his future -- or lack thereof -- with the Milton Keynes-based team. At one point, "sources" even reported that the Mexican driver would be announcing his retirement during the weekend of the Mexico City Grand Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Additionally, various details about his contract, which runs through 2024 after he signed an extension in May 2022, were supposedly leaked -- and subsequently debunked.

At the end of the day, Perez is indeed set to be back with Red Bull in 2024. In fact, the entire Formula 1 driver lineup for the 2023 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit is set to be the exact same driver lineup when the 2024 season begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday.

And there was never legitimately any reason to believe otherwise.

Sergio Perez back at Red Bull despite nonsense rumors

Verstappen was simply on another level during the 2023 season, breaking records left and right. While a lot of his success was attributed to the strength of the RB19 -- a dominant car, to be sure -- it became clear with some of the razor-thin margins throughout the grid that it was the driver who was consistently making the ultimate difference.

The battle was more about second fastest driver as opposed to second fastest team, unlike what we've seen in the past when it comes to eras of single-team dominance.

Yet Perez, despite finishing with less than half of Verstappen's point total, still managed to finish in second place in the driver standings, netting Red Bull their first ever 1-2 finish in the driver standings.

But with so many still refusing to give Verstappen his flowers, Perez ended up being treated as if he wasn't good enough. It couldn't possibly be because Verstappen is simply a generational talent, could it?

In reality, if you're Red Bull, why fix what's not broken?

Sure, there are probably better options than Perez in the long term, and the 2025 season could very well see a driver change, with more than half the current grid set to become free agents.

But to imply that Red Bull would consider sacking a driver a year before his contract is up -- after that very driver delivered the team the best result possible in the standings behind Verstappen -- never made any sense -- beyond, of course, attractive headlines during an otherwise boring silly season.

Naturally, given Red Bull's history of making in-season driver changes, you can all but guarantee that there will be more rumors during the 2024 season if Perez continues to finish behind Verstappen.

Robert Doornbos replaced Christian Klien during the 2006 season. The following year at sister team Toro Rosso, Sebatian Vettel replaced Scott Speed. Toro Rosso made another in-season change in 2009, replacing Sebastien Bourdais with Jaime Alguersuari.

In recent years, Verstappen himself replaced Daniil Kvyat during the 2016 season and ended up winning his first race with Red Bull. Kvyat took Verstappen's Toro Rosso seat and then was replaced by Pierre Gasly before the 2017 season ended.

In 2019, Gasly, who had replaced the Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull after the 2018 season, was demoted back to Toro Rosso and replaced by Alexander Albon. Albon was replaced by Perez after the 2020 season.

Then last year, AlphaTauri (formerly Toro Rosso) replaced Nyck de Vries with Ricciardo during the season, which is ultimately when a lot of the Perez rumors really started to heat up.

The current three-year (and now four-year) run with Verstappen and Perez is the longest Red Bull have had since Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were teammates from 2009 to 2013. So it's not like they're sacking drivers after every bad race, and Red Bull themselves have not made an in-season change since 2019.

But the very fact that Perez is set to be behind the wheel of the RB20 when the 2024 season begins is more than enough reason not to automatically listen whenever the silly season rumors inevitably start to swirl.

Formula 1: Without Guenther Steiner, Haas might not last much longer. Formula 1: Without Guenther Steiner, Haas might not last much longer. dark. Next

The Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled to get the record-breaking 24-race campaign underway at Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday, March 2.