The start of a capitulation – Should Red Bull replace Sergio Perez?

The Mexican has not stood on the podium since Max Verstappen cruised past at the Miami Grand Prix

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After four races in 2023, there was a lot of talk that Sergio Perez could be in with a shout of challenging for the Formula 1 drivers’ title.

He was even on course to win the Miami Grand Prix to go to the top of the standings after five races but Max Verstappen recovered a disappointing qualifying to storm to victory in the Sunshine State.

Since then, Verstappen has led every single lap in F1 (224 consecutive laps led in total) while Perez has not got on the podium in that same time period of three races with a best finish of fourth in Spain.

Three successive qualifying sessions without a Q3 appearance has massively hampered the Mexican’s season and he is now just nine points ahead of Fernando Alonso in an improved yet far inferior Aston Martin.

If this form continues, should Red Bull find a replacement for Perez? Total Motorsport gives it some thought.

Throwing it away

Everything has fallen apart for Perez in qualifying recently after his Q1 crash in Monaco left him without a chance of any points. That was followed by two woeful performances with errors aplenty in consecutive Q2 exits in Spain and Canada.

In Barcelona, at least, he could power his way to fourth behind the Mercedes duo to salvage decent points but he didn’t have the same speed in Montreal, being beaten to the flag by both Ferrari drivers after they too suffered a poor Saturday.

Little, if any, of this can be blamed on Red Bull who have given him a bulletproof car that is clearly faster than the rest but he can’t get it to work in the same way Verstappen can.

It would be foolish to ask him to beat the two-time champion every week but you would think he could at least be next best behind him considering the RB19’s dominance.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull leads Pierre Gasly of Alpine during 2023 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Who could replace Perez?

Helmut Marko has famously never been shy to replace someone who is not performing to the expected standard and Perez may well be feeling that pressure. If he were to be axed at the end of the year, there are a number of possible replacements available.

The easiest to imagine would be either a racing return for Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently Red Bull’s reserve driver, or a promotion for Yuki Tsunoda after the Japanese racer’s fine start to the year.

Ricciardo’s dreadful spell at McLaren might be off-putting for Marko but Tsunoda has proven he has taken steps forward after two years as the understudy at AlphaTauri.

Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull during the 2023 Season Launch | FIA / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

One of two bolder moves could be a sensational swap with Ferrari to get Charles Leclerc out of Maranello and send Perez the other way. The Monegasque appears discontent with the Scuderia right now amid their poor season and with a seat free, someone of Perez’s ability could be ideal to partner Carlos Sainz.

The issue for Perez in that deal is the up-and-coming Oliver Bearman who is turning a lot of heads in Formula 2 and could command a seat in a Prancing Horse very soon if he keeps up his scintillating form.

One last option for Red Bull could be to offer Lando Norris a route out of the sinking ship at McLaren. The British team have been heading backwards in 2023 and yet Norris is getting the maximum and more out of the MCL60 and providing solid results.

Red Bull would have to pay off the rest of his contract but for the hottest young talent in F1, and a good friend of Verstappen, it would absolutely be worth paying the price and then some.

Pole position winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Second placed Carlos Sainz of Ferrari (R) and Third placed Lando Norris of McLaren (L) after 2023 Spanish GP qualifying | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

The next F1 race is the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix which will be the second sprint weekend of the year, held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg on June 30 to July 2.

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis
Motorsport journalist, indyCar correspondent and F1 writer for Total-Motorsport.com
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