Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marco has admitted that the Austrians risk losing Pierre Gasley if they fail to give him a place in the top team in the 2023 season. So, is Sergio Perez’s place under threat? We understand the footage of “Red Bull”, “Alpha Tauri” and the Milton Keynes youth program.
Yes, Perez’s place is under threat
The contract with Red Bull, signed in late 2020, saved Cheko’s career in Formula One – without him, the Mexican would probably be left without a place. In the 2021 season, Sergio looked more confident as Ferstappen’s teammate than Gasley and Albon before him, but even he only occasionally squeezed the most out of the technique, often lagging behind the top three and playing a strategic role.
This was enough to extend the contract for 2022 with a clear goal – having become accustomed to the team, Perez should more often give the pace at the level of Ferstappen and benefit in the fight for victories and points. The season has just begun, and it is too early to judge whether Sergio manages to meet these expectations. In Jeddah, the Mexican remained the main favorite of the race until the accident Latifi, but in the first stage he lost quite a lot against Ferstappen.
In Bahrain, Perez lost to Ferstappen
Photo: Clive Mason / Getty Images
Red Bull needs a stable co-driver, and only the next few races will show whether Perez can regularly be as close to the limit of the car as his partner. If not, then the meaning of extending his contract for the 2023 season is not entirely clear: since the second year in the team there was no progress, it is unlikely he is in the third.
Especially when the team has Gasley – a racer six years younger, who withstood the year 2019 with dignity, won the Italian Grand Prix in 2020 and for the third year in a row remains the leader of “Alpha Tauri”. Pierre really had a good start to the 2019 season, but now he is a completely different racer. After all, as part of the youth team, the Frenchman is in his fifth season (not counting 2019) – he has nowhere to grow in Faenza, and a return to Milton Keynes would benefit both him and the team.
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Other Gasley options
So far, however, Gasley is not waiting for Red Bull: Perez has a whole season ahead of him to drive one of the best cars in the peloton, which has already brought him a pole and will probably be able to win the race more than once. Even in Jeddah, Cheko confidently controlled the course of the race and only due to circumstances was behind the main rivals. If Sergio continues in the same spirit in other races – Christian Horner will be the first to offer him a new contract. And what to do with Pierre Gasley in that case?
There are unlikely to be any vacancies in the Mercedes and Ferrari in the near future – and if they do, Gasley’s name will be among the first on the list of candidates. Paradoxically, the Frenchman has much less chance of getting into the Alpine: Oscar Piastri is waiting for his chance in Anstone, and Esteban Ocon is closing the “French” vacancy. But some French sponsors could have supported Pierre’s move to Haas or Alfa Romeo – Ferrari satellites have become one of the main surprises of the start of the season and now look more confident than Alfa Tauri.
Gasley is ready to strengthen any team in the peloton
Photo: Peter Fox / Getty Images
At the same time, Gasley seems the most logical candidate if McLaren or Aston Martin lose one of their drivers (read Riccardo or Vettel), and while this move may seem like a strange decision, both teams have enough resources to to achieve success with their competent distribution.
One way or another, if Red Bull eventually renew their contract with Perez and Gasley does not want to stay at Alfa Tauri for the fourth season in a row, the balance of power in the championship will be clearer – and the final decision will be made by Pierre.
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Alfa Tauri can completely change the lineup
If Gasley’s prospects now look very bright, Yuki Tsunode has yet to win a new contract. The Japanese himself admitted at the end of last year that he was surprised by this decision of the leadership, and so far he can not justify these advances: he missed the race in Jeddah through no fault of his own, but in qualifying in Bahrain drove very uncertainly and scored points only because technical problems of teammates.
This year, Red Bull has three promising drivers in Formula 2. First of all, we are talking about Liam Lawson, who last year competed in both F-2 and DTM and almost became the champion of the latter.
Williams protégé Logan Sargent and Red Bull F-2 drivers Liam Lawson and Yuri Vips
Photo: Lars Baron / Getty Images
In addition, the Austrians have long supported the Estonian Yuri Vips – this year he is even better than Lawson and would have won the first long race of the season, if not for the hitch of mechanics at the pit stop. Finally, in the colors of “Red Bull” in the F-2 chases Norwegian Dennis Hauger – the current Formula 3 champion.
It may be too early for Hauger to move to Formula One in 2023, but Lawson and Vips, who also serve as reserve pilots and will leave in free races on Fridays, will be able to effectively replace Tsunoda if they have enough time to get acquainted with the car. So the possible departure of Gasley does not improve Yuki’s position in any way – the Red Bull youth program was buried too early!
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