Max Verstappen Red Bull exit “possibility” has huge Sergio Perez knock-on effect

Could Red Bull somehow end up with an unexpected driver line-up in 2025 or '26?

(L to R): second placed Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing with team mate and race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull
(L to R): second placed Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing with team mate…

Sergio Perez’s Red Bull career could eventually be saved by Max Verstappen - but only if their star driver quits the team.

The hypothesis about the 2025 F1 driver line-up was mooted on the F1 Nation podcast.

Perez is fighting for his future at F1’s top team with his contract expiring and a number of rivals eyeing his dominant car.

“Put Max in the equation,” L’Equipe journalist Fred Ferret suggested before the Australian Grand Prix.

“He may have to leave, at one point.

“If he leaves Red Bull, things are very different.

“Then, I would say, that Checo's seat is saved because you need someone with the legacy of driving the old cars.

“This is something you need in your mind for 2025 and later.”

But Natalie Pinkham replied: “I would be absolutely amazed if Max left for 2025. I could see potentially '26, with the engine change.

“Perhaps he knows something that we don't about how far advanced Red Bull area, in that area.

“It would be staggering to walk away from this rocket ship of a car in '25!”

Ferret asked: “Did you bet at Christmas that Lewis Hamilton would go to Ferrari?”

Pinkham answered: “But we're talking about walking away from a totally dominant car! We're not talking about walking away from a Mercedes.

“Say he's got this year sewn up, his fourth [title]. He's going to walk away from a fifth?

“It would be ridiculous to.”

But Ferret said: “I am not that sure. Maybe Max, because of Jos and Helmut and everything, will have to leave.

“I will say that it's a possibility…”

As it stands, the race is for the second Red Bull seat alongside Verstappen in 2025.

Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo are among the drivers to have been linked with the coveted position at various points.

“Perez is doing everything asked of him,” Pinkham insisted.

“He’s bringing it home cleanly in second [in the first two grands prix].

“You can’t fault him. What else is he supposed to do?

“It feels like there has been a shift. Maybe it's too soon to tell. But it feels like there has been a shift in his mind-set as to how he approaches this season.

“Think back to last year. Getting that win in Saudi last year gave him the shot in the arm that he needed that [a title challenge] was possible.

“We know he is a street circuit specialist. “Suddenly we thought, hang on, game on here! Only to be put back in his box by Max.

“If he comes back into it, this year, with a different mentality he may well drive better. “He may relax. Take the pressure off.

“He is tenacious, we know that. But sometimes he makes mistakes when the pressure is on.

“Right now, he is doing enough.”

Read More