According to Dr Helmut Marko, there is “no question” about whether Sergio Perez will hold onto his Red Bull seat for now.
He acknowledges that the Mexican has struggled even to get out of Q3 for five consecutive grands prix now, but Marko insists Perez is still quick enough for the seat.
“He started 15th, so sixth is ok,” the 80-year-old Austrian told Osterreich newspaper when asked about the British GP at Silverstone.
“There no question that he is endangered, in any case,” Marko added, offering his support for Perez.
But still, there are very interesting rumblings at present about drivers at Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo, for instance, will test the championship-leading 2023 car at the Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone from Tuesday.
“If we bring him back, will you be nice to me?” team boss Christian Horner was reported as asking a group of fans at Silverstone last weekend.
“It’s an important test for Pirelli, but it will also be great to see where Daniel is.”
Horner denied Australian Ricciardo, 33, is in the running to replace Perez, but that doesn’t mean Red Bull isn’t planning for the future.
For instance, amid Lando Norris’ impressive performance at Silverstone, Marko is believed to have held a meeting with the McLaren driver’s manager Mark Berryman.
And Red Bull team boss Christian Horner admitted Norris accepted his invitation to a private barbeque that was attended by about half of the F1 drivers.
“You can see he (Max Verstappen) enjoyed racing Lando,” Horner is quoted by si.com.
“I had all the drivers for a barbecue at my house last night, and you see they go straight into talking about moments on track and their eyes light up about what happened here or there or even in Formula 3 or karting.”
The only real vacancy in the Red Bull stable at present, however, is the Alpha Tauri seat currently precariously occupied by underperforming rookie Nyck de Vries.
Ricciardo admits he might be interested if it leads him back to the top team.
“If that creates a pathway to come back, then yeah, it’s something I would look at because ultimately this is the place I want to come back to,” said the Australian.
Marko, meanwhile, told Sport1 when asked about Ricciardo: “We didn’t recognise him when he came back from McLaren.
“But we’ve fed him up again and he’s doing a good job in the simulator now.”
Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher doubts Ricciardo is in the running for an immediate return to Red Bull Racing.
“At the moment I’m still assuming Perez will be in the Red Bull next year,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“But if Alex Albon was free, which he isn’t, or if Ricciardo can show his class again, things could get tight for him (Perez). But he has a contract and therefore I can’t really imagine a separation.”
As for the idea of Ricciardo racing an Alpha Tauri, Schumacher added: “The car isn’t particularly good, but who knows.
“Maybe Daniel likes the idea. The tyre test will certainly tell us a bit more.”