Published On: Wed, Apr 10th, 2024

F1 team applying pressure on Red Bull to release Perez as Marko speaks out | F1 | Sport

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko has admitted that the team are under pressure from Audi regarding the future of driver Sergio Perez. Audi are set to enter Formula One in 2026 and have their eye on a host of current stars, including last year’s runner-up to Max Verstappen.

Perez’s contract expires at the end of the season and his seat has been in jeopardy for some time, with the Mexican star struggling to match his team-mate for pace. However, Perez remains one of the most capable drivers on the grid and Red Bull are aware that there is interest in his services beyond the current campaign.

Audi are thought to be among the frontrunners for his signature, but Perez would have to sign a one-year contract with another team in the meantime, before they officially join the F1 paddock.

But that has not stopped Audi from enquiring over Perez’s services, with the sport’s newest manufacturer thought to be keen on getting their drivers in place as early as next year. Marko appears unconcerned about the plans of rival teams, however, as Red Bull mull over Perez’s future.

When asked for an update on Perez by Austrian TV station OE24, Marko replied: “We don’t allow ourselves to be pressured. Audi apparently wants a decision. We look at everything in peace. When we have enough overview, we will decide on our drivers.”

Perez does expect a decision “within a month” though as he discussed the matter following his second-placed finish at the Japanese Grand Prix. “I am pretty relaxed about it (his future),” he said. “My main focus is in F1 and whatever comes next, I’m really pleased with what I’ve done in the sport so far.

“I believe it will be a matter of time, obviously the driver market is moving and the next few weeks are going to be a lot of movement for sure, so I expect within a month to really know what I’m doing next year.”

Not renewing Perez’s contract would put Red Bull back in the market for another driver, with the likes of Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon among the likely candidates, but their current star has always retained the public backing of senior figures.

“He (Perez) needs to just keep doing what he’s doing,” explained team principal Christian Horner. “The whole driver market seems to be very early this year that everybody seems to be rushing around, and we’re only four races into the year.

“We’re not in a huge rush. And, obviously, there’s a significant amount of interest in our cars, as you would expect. But Checo has the priority, and it is going to be a few more races yet before we start to think about next year.”

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