Sergio Perez’s prospects at Red Bull have taken a significant hit following a crash during his opening practice laps at the Hungaroring on Friday.
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher didn’t mince words, stating, “This cannot happen,” and foreseeing Perez potentially losing his place in the team in the long run. Schumacher also hinted at the possibility of Daniel Ricciardo’s sooner-than-expected return to Red Bull.
The mounting pressure on the 33-year-old driver has led to concerns about a downward spiral.
“The mental factor is very, very important,” Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost emphasized when discussing Perez’s situation. “You win and lose races in your head. Formula 1 is a very tough business.”
To compound matters, Perez’s crash occurred before gathering any data for Red Bull about its new and rare-in-2023 car update.
“Now he has no more spare parts,” Dr. Helmut Marko confirmed.
Despite this setback, Marko assures Perez’s seat is safe for now due to his contract extending to 2024 and the support of powerful Mexican sponsors.
“If Ricciardo presents himself well, he could certainly be an issue for Red Bull Racing in the future,” Marko stated. However, any potential changes will only be considered after the end of Perez’s contract in 2024.
“But that will certainly only be possible after the end of the 2024 season, when Perez’s contract expires,” he confirmed.
Marko told motorsport-magazin.com that, on Friday, Ricciardo was “close to Tsunoda” except on the soft tyres in qualifying trim.
“He needs to improve on the fast lap to get more in qualifying – that’s our goal,” he said. “There is still a third training session for this so I hope we can solve these problems.”
Alpha Tauri’s Tost believes Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda could also be a contender, contingent on his future performances. Discussions with partner Honda are already underway regarding this possibility.
“Of course that depends on the further results,” he said. “There are already discussions with our partner Honda.”
For his part, Perez admitted to his mistake on Friday, adding to a string of five consecutive failures to reach Q3 recently.
“It’s nothing different from what could happen to any driver on the grid,” Perez told DAZN in Hungary. “We all have good and bad moments.”