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2025 contract still possible for Perez - Marko

2025 contract still possible for Perez - Marko
© Reuters
It is still possible that Sergio Perez will be offered a new contract to keep racing at Red Bull beyond 2024.

It is still possible that Sergio Perez will be offered a new contract to keep racing at Red Bull beyond 2024.

That is the word from the team's influential and notoriously merciless top Austrian consultant Dr Helmut Marko, even though Perez seems to still be struggling alongside Max Verstappen in 2024.

Auto Motor und Sport believes the Mexican's gap to world champion Verstappen at the Bahrain test was as much as seven tenths per lap.

"Perez has to get Max out of his head and run his own program," Marko insisted.

There are rumours Red Bull might even make the tough call to oust Perez, 34, within the 2024 season - opening up promotions for Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull and Liam Lawson at 'RB'.

Marko, 80, told Servus TV: "Perez still has a contract for 2024. It's up to him now.

"If he drives in a similar form to the way he competed the last few races (of 2023), we can easily start talking about an extension."

What is clear, according to Red Bull's rivals, is that no driver - not even Perez in the sister car - will be able to chase down Verstappen this year.

"19 drivers already know that they will not be world champion this year," Fernando Alonso declared last Friday.

That is despite the fact that Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc actually topped the timesheets on Thursday and Friday respectively last week.

"It is going smoothly - the right direction," Sainz told the Spanish newspaper AS. "Is it enough to beat Max? No, I don't think so, honestly.

"I would like us to consolidate as the second team, a bit like we finished last year. And from there, develop this car that hopefully has more development window than last year and get closer to Red Bull little by little during the year.

"But the reality is that, today, Red Bull is one step ahead, taking into account that they started developing their car a long time before we did."

Triple consecutive world champion Verstappen admitted after the final day of pre-season testing last Friday: "We decided not to focus on the laptime."

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Carlos Sainz at the Abu Dhabi GP on November 25, 2023
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