Disagreement over Red Bull desire for key option to replace Sergio Perez

"It has to be done now. Sergio Perez is a candidate who has to vacate the cockpit"

(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing and team mate Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the post qualifying FIA
(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing and team mate Max Verstappen …

Helmut Marko has admitted Carlos Sainz must be considered for a Red Bull seat next year.

But his admission goes against a prediction made by Ralf Schumacher, who thinks Red Bull won’t want to bring Sainz back into the fold.

Sergio Perez is into the final year of his contract as Max Verstappen’s teammate and, with some top-notch names available on the driver market, Red Bull could make a big change.

“I don't really believe that the decision at Red Bull won't be made until the summer,” Schumacher told Sky Germany before the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.

“Now is the hot phase, now Sainz is on the market. It has to be done now.

“Perez is a candidate who has to vacate the cockpit.

“Fernando Alonso is also still on the market.

"That's why this has to be decided now at Red Bull.

"I think Sainz, as far as Dr. Helmut Marko is concerned, won't be the No1 priority because he already let him go [from Toro Rosso].

“He already had him against Max back then, and exchanged him because he said that Max was clearly the better one.

“So it will be difficult for Carlos if Dr. Marko makes the decision.”

But Red Bull advisor Marko said, even before the Ferrari driver finished on the podium at Suzuka: "Sainz is currently in incredible form.

“Sainz came into Formula 1 through Red Bull and also had a very good year at Toro Rosso.

“Sainz is certainly a name that you have to take into account.”

Ferrari's Sainz is the only driver aside from the Red Bulls to have won a grand prix last season or this year.

At the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, he completed the podium behind Verstappen and Perez.

Sainz is out of a seat next year when his Ferrari is taken by Lewis Hamilton, who will leave Mercedes.

Mercedes have the most notable current vacancy for the 2025 grid to fill.

Verstappen could still become a Mercedes target although he is likelier to stick with the lucrative contract he is on, until 2028, with Red Bull.

The possibility of Perez retaining his seat has perhaps improved after the earliest rounds of this season.

Perez entered 2024 under immense pressure after some below-par performances last year.

But he finished P2 at the first two grands prix, both times behind Verstappen, the perfect result for his team.

Aston Martin’s Alonso is also into the final year of his contract so could be a target for Red Bull or Mercedes.

Sainz, meanwhile, could take Alonso’s place at Aston Martin or go to Sauber ahead of their evolution into Audi, a brand he already has an affinity with through his father.

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