Helmut Marko says Alonso only real alternative to Perez

Sergio Perez might find himself with a contractual “problem” if Red Bull had better immediate opportunities to replace him.

That is the word from powerful Red Bull figure Dr Helmut Marko, who admits that the 33-year-old Mexican has a signed a sealed deal for 2024 involving multiple sponsors.

However, Perez has also entered a conspicuous performance slump, endangering his second place in the drivers’ title despite Red Bull’s technical dominance at present.

When pressed about the situation, team consultant Marko told Sport1 this week: “I repeat myself, but Perez has a contract and we want to respect it.

“We’re doing everything we can to get him back on track.”

However, he is also not hiding Red Bull’s discontent with Max Verstappen’s current teammate.

“We just don’t have any alternatives. Otherwise he might have a problem,” Austrian Marko, 80, said.

For the future, Red Bull actually has plenty of talent. But at Alpha Tauri, Yuki Tsunoda is being linked with Honda’s Aston Martin future, while Liam Lawson is too fresh a rookie to put next to triple world champion Verstappen.

As for Daniel Ricciardo, he may have been a contender for Perez’s 2024 seat until his hand injury.

“At the moment I only see one person who could come close to keeping up with Max – Fernando Alonso,” said Marko.

Marko also dismissed the idea that, with his third title now in the bag, Verstappen may be willing to support Perez in his critical quest to retain second overall in 2023.

“No. Max won’t help him,” Marko insists.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is among those who tip Red Bull to eventually make a move to oust Perez.

“At the moment it speaks in favour of Marko and Red Bull that they respect Perez’s contract,” he said.

“But I am firmly convinced that they will replace him with Daniel Ricciardo at the beginning of next season if he continues like this. And unfortunately, I think that will be the case.”