Helmut Marko hints age will be key factor in picking Max Verstappen teammate

"Sergio Perez is no longer the youngest, nor is Daniel Ricciardo"

(L to R): Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant with Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing. Formula 1 World
(L to R): Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant with Max…

The age of Red Bull’s next driver will be taken into account, Helmut Marko has hinted.

Although there have been wobbles about Max Verstappen’s future with Red Bull after the revelation that he could quit via a contractual clause if Marko also leaves, he has reaffirmed his loyalty.

Verstappen is contracted until 2028 but teammate Sergio Perez’s deal will expire at the end of this season.

Perez has started the season well amid huge pressure from rival drivers who covet his seat.

"Sergio is in a very good position at the moment," Marko said to Sky Germany ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"The question of who should replace Perez doesn't really arise.

"But it's about the future. Perez is no longer the youngest, nor is Daniel Ricciardo.

“And if you then take other aspects into account, another driver could certainly be included in this process."

Perez and RB driver Ricciardo are both 34, among the elder statesmen of the current F1 grid.

Ricciardo entered 2024 hoping to prove his worth in the RB to then jump into the Red Bull next year, but his form has tailed off since his impressive comeback with AlphaTauri last year.

Red Bull junior Liam Lawson, aged 22, was mentioned to Marko.

"He has to sit in the car first and prove himself,” Marko said.

“But what he showed in his appearances [in 2023] was very promising."

Lawson deputised with great aplomb for the injured Ricciardo for AlphaTauri last year.

The movement behind young drivers has increased after Ollie Bearman’s fruitful Ferrari debut, and the hype around Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

But Red Bull could also seek Alex Albon or Carlos Sainz, who are both in their 20s, if they opt to get rid of Perez next year.

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