Will Pérez Checo-in to Red Bull‘s heartbreak hotel?
2020 has been a season defined by the unexpected, but don‘t assume it’s all over just yet.
Sergio Pérez is one of many drivers who fits into the unenviable category of having the skills, but not the results. His 10 years in Formula 1 have proven to many that he has the ability to fight with the very best, but so far, the machinery to do so has escaped him. The Mexican driver began his career with Sauber in 2011, moving to McLaren to replace Hamilton, just as he began his career at Mercedes, the beginning of the team’s domination that we’re still talking about today. Just a year later, 3 years after his debut, Pérez moved to the then-Force India. His dedication to Vijay Mallya’s team led him to put them into administration even when said owner became unable to fund it, which saved hundreds of jobs and ensured the team’s future in motorsport. For a driver that was tipped at the start of career to fight with Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, and yet committed so much to a midfield team, everyone felt that Pérez departure was cruel, especially when there’s an ever-decreasing number of seats left.
Pérez could fit into a number of the remaining empty slots, though. At Haas, he would provide invaluable experience rebuilding a struggling team: at Alfa Romeo, he would work alongside the team that knew him as a rookie. For both teams, Pérez comes with experience, both in racing and growing success of a team. Oh, and money.
A lot of it.
Pérez’s extensive list of sponsors was one of the reasons he was chosen over Esteban Ocon back in 2018, when Lawrence Stroll purchased Force India - a deal which, remember, Sergio himself instigated. F1 is always twisty. Clearly, Checo likes good Wi-Fi, as has the backing of 3 telecommunications companies, which provide a substantial income for his team. For Haas and Alfa Romeo, especially with new financial regulations, investment like this could change everything - like they have at Racing Point.
There’s another possibility I haven’t yet mentioned, though - Red Bull. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Amelia, they’re doing a balancing act with 2 talented drivers as it is, they don’t need another”. I’d be inclined to agree, but if Dietrich Mateschitz was happy with 2 drivers, he wouldn’t have 2 teams in Formula 1. Whilst the last 2 races have shown that Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly have more than enough talent to go around, something they seriously lack is experience. Sergio Pérez has spent double the time in F1 than Gasly and Albon combined, and might be the change that fits Red Bull’s second seat perfectly. Yuki Tsunoda is providing spectacular performances in F2, and Daniil Kvyat is a reliable driver for Alpha Tauri, but if Helmut Marko decides to bin the Russian before promoting his Japanese teammate to F1, Red Bull actually - prepare yourselves - don’t have any junior careers left to ruin *or make*. I know.
Pérez might be the best option for Red Bull, especially because he isn’t a hotshot rookie - he knows how to race. Moreover, if he fails to make an impact in Albon’s current seat, it forces Christian Horner and co. to make a serious assessment on their culture.
Oh, and back to the money (come on, it’s Formula 1). I mentioned the superpower telecommunications companies that Pérez brings with him, and of course, a team would be crazy to overlook them. Perhaps this is less so for the “top 3”, but even with the 2022 Financial Regulations, Red Bull losing Aston Martin as their lead sponsor puts them on the back foot to Mercedes. Whilst we all know Ferrari seem to be behind the Milton Keynes-based team right now, there are some serious competitors, namely Renault, McLaren - and most significantly, Racing Point.
And just to mix it up a bit, where are Aston Martin going to? Racing Point. Told you F1 was twisty.
To recap, that means that Red Bull’s current main sponsor is moving to Pérez’s current team, who, with Aston Martin’s helping hand, could end up fighting them for podiums every race very soon. Even if Pérez doesn’t want to move to the energy drinks manufacturer team, I have a feeling he’s going to have Christian Horner’s phone number by the end of the year.
Does this mean Pérez is going to Red Bull Racing for 2021? Probably not. Christian Horner did mention the 30-year-old’s name in Mugello, that was before Albon claimed his first podium. Movistar did report that Pérez manager had been in contact with Red Bull, but according to their press team, this was because the same team manage Sebastian Buemi, who drove for Red Bull a decade ago (although that in itself is a wildcard - let me know if you want to see a piece on it).
As for Pérez, Alfa Romeo seemed keen to sign them, although they seem to have provisional lineup of Kimi Räikkönen and Mick Schumacher. Zak Brown also offered the Mexican an IndyCar seat for Arrow McLaren. Taking over the crown for Alonso? Perhaps it’ll go the way we expected for Pérez after all, one way or another.
Red Bull are likely to stick with their talent pool for 2021, but silly season’s never over till it’s over. Don’t look away.
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