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Perez's Imola struggle puts Red Bull seat back in jeopardy

Perez's Imola struggle puts Red Bull seat back in jeopardy
© Reuters
Sergio Perez is once again on thin ice regarding his future at Red Bull Racing.

Sergio Perez is once again on thin ice regarding his future at Red Bull Racing.

It seemed until recently that the Mexican driver had secured his position through at least 2025, thanks to consistently ranking second in the world championship standings, right behind his teammate Max Verstappen.

However, after a lackluster showing at the Imola circuit last weekend, 34-year-old Perez was overtaken by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in the standings.

"The lights were on, but no one was home," observed ex-Red Bull racer Robert Doornbos while analyzing Perez's performance on Ziggo Sport.

"I found his first stint really shocking, actually. Now he's going to Monaco, where you really need self-confidence. But I think it's much more likely that Lando Norris will fight for pole with Max."

When questioned about the potential consequences if Perez's rankings continue to plummet throughout 2024, Doornbos stated: "Then he'll be fired."

"Things were going well at the beginning of the year, so you can't fire him, can you? He was second. But if he's fifth in the championship, he'll be gone," he elaborated.

The influential Italian sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, rated Perez's Imola performance a mere 5 out of 10. "Perez was schooled by Verstappen," the paper critiqued.

"While Super Max works wonders, he (Perez) does it disastrously with the same equipment. How long will Christian Horner continue to rely on him?"

Christian Horner, Red Bull's team leader, continues to support Perez, claiming that the Imola event was "an anomaly" in an otherwise solid season for Perez.

"He has changed his approach and has been very solid since the start of the season," Horner praised. "A good Monaco next week and he will be at his best again."

But Horner concurs that Red Bull requires a secondary driver who can consistently compete at the front "to help Max, just as the two McLarens and the two Ferraris are stronger together."

Meanwhile, the theoretical possibility remains open for Carlos Sainz to join Red Bull.

"Sainz is first on our list," according to Alessandro Alunni Bravi, a spokesperson for the Audi-owned Sauber team, in an interview with Italy's Autosprint.

"I say this with a smile, but let's say there is a flirtation underway, as having him would be ideal. Although it should be noted that Red Bull and Mercedes are also theoretical competitors until proven otherwise," he noted.

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