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Formula 1

Perez's defiance clashes badly with Red Bull reality

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Sergio Perez’s defiance in the wake of fresh speculation about his Red Bull future is admirable but does not match reality – at least at the moment – given another qualifying setback at the British Grand Prix.

Perez’s spin into the gravel in Q1 consigned him to an early exit and 19th place on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Having switched to slicks on a drying track, Perez corrected a wobble on the entry to Copse on his outlap and took to the run-off – where he gradually lost control, the rear came round, and he slid backwards into the gravel.

“I put my hand up, I f***ed up today, tomorrow is a new day,” Perez said.

But the error, which leaves Perez with one top 10 start in the last six grands prix, is not an isolated incident.

It comes as the prospect of losing his Red Bull seat has emerged as a possibility.

Perez only signed a new Red Bull contract to the end of 2026 barely a month ago, but that is a one-plus-one with performance clauses – and Red Bull has shown itself willing to cut drivers at any moment if it wants to anyway.

His form had already downturned at the time of that new deal being announced, which is why it surprised so many, despite team boss Christian Horner claiming it “made absolute sense at that point in time”. Horner has joked that “we thought the contract would help”, but there has been no arresting the nosedive.

“This is a sport where there's no hiding,” Horner said to Sky Sports F1 on Friday at Silverstone.

“Particularly with Max Verstappen as your team-mate.

“He knows he's being measured against the very best and we need him up there supporting Max because there's two McLarens now [up there], there's two Ferraris, there's two Mercedes, and we need there to be desperately two Red Bulls.”

That is why there are noises from the Red Bull camp that Perez may not be retained after all. Replacing him for 2025 with either Daniel Ricciardo or Liam Lawson has been mooted and reported by multiple publications including The Race. A mid-season change would be even more drastic.

Perez insisted the rumours “had nothing to do” with his qualifying error, that he is “fully focused on my job” and argued that his practice pace on Friday was more representative of his performance level this weekend.

“We're making good progress,” he claimed.

“We're just about to unlock a couple of tenths from our side and our life will be very different, back to where we were at the start of the year.

“Let's keep our heads down and full focus onto race tomorrow.”

It’s unusual to hear a driver say they are “just about to unlock a couple of tenths”, as it’s an almost nonchalant attitude to a performance deficit that is having such big consequences for driver and team. It might accurately reflect Perez’s confidence, but it doesn’t reflect reality, and Perez needs whatever promise he is seeing behind the scenes to translate into something tangible, and fast – even if he is downplaying his situation.

Asked if he had spoken to Red Bull chiefs Horner and Helmut Marko about his future, Perez replied: “No, nothing about it. I have a contract and I'm fully focussed on my job which is to deliver tomorrow.

“[The person] most concerned about is myself so I want to get back to my form as early as possible. I'm just fully focussed on myself.”

And on whether he is fully confident in his place in the team for the rest of the year, Perez said: “Of course. I'm fully committed to the team, I'm fully committed to my career. I have a contract with the team and I will turn things around.

“It's not something that distracts me or anything like that. It's something that, it's done and dusted, and I just want to get back to my form and focus on the important things.”

The problem for Perez is that his commitment to Red Bull is not really the issue.

It’s whether his form continues to fall short of Red Bull’s expectations or even directly leads to a faltering Red Bull championship bid.  

A bit of a ‘me against the world’ mentality has served Perez well when his back has been against the wall before.

“What we've constantly seen from him is this resilience to be able to bounce back,” said Horner. “And we're hoping to see that very soon.”

That was on Friday. The words ring even more true after Saturday qualifying.

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