Has Sergio Perez's fate been sealed after disappointing Mexico City GP?

Published on 1 November 2023 at 20:00

Perez has had a difficult year in 2023, being heavily outperformed by teammate Max Verstappen. The Mexican has been under huge amounts of pressure to perform in order to keep his Red Bull seat for 2024.


The Mexican signed for Red Bull for the start of the 2021 season, replacing outgoing Alex Albon. Many were excited with this move as he came off the back off an impressive 2020 season with Racing Point - leading to people believing he could challenge Verstappen.


However, Perez's time at Red Bull has not gone to plan - constantly being significantly outperformed by Verstappen. Despite this, the Mexican has won some races with the team.


Perez's most important victory came at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, securing him a contract extension - lasting up until the end of the 2024 season.


Therefore, the 33-year-old - theoretically - has a contract with the Austrian team up until the end of the 2024 season. However, we have seen in the past how ruthless the Milton Keynes-based team can be with drivers.


Pierre Gasly was demoted back to Toro Rosso after half a season with the team due to his performances. Likewise for Alex Albon, who was dropped by the team after the 2020 season.


What does Perez have to do to maintain his seat?


Despite the hugely disappointing season, it is easily forgotten that the 33-year-old has won two races this season. He won the race in Jeddah and also won in Baku, leading to some people debating whether he could challenge Verstappen for the drivers' championship.


However, since the upgrades in Barcelona, it is clear to see that Perez has struggled compared to Verstappen. The Mexican prefers a more stable rear, whereas Verstappen like his car to rotate more - meaning a more loose rear end.


Since the upgrades to the RB19, Perez has been way off in qualifying, which is a weak point in general. However, his strong point - race pace - has diminished, constantly lacking pace compared to his Dutch teammate.


It even got to the point where Perez has requested Red Bull to revert back to the previous build. However, his request was denied. This has left many thinking how tough the second Red Bull seat really is.


Red Bull boss Christian Horner has publicly desired for Perez to maintain P2 in the championships - as the Austrian team have never finished a season one and two in the drivers' championship.


With Lewis Hamilton performing at a high level, it is going to be difficult to keep him behind on his current form. The seven-time world champion is currently 20 points behind with three races to go. The Mercedes driver would be even closer if it was without his disqualification at the United States Grand Prix, where he finished second.


Who could replace Perez?


Spanish journalist Albert Fabrega sent many fans wild, regarding his post on X, saying that he could not believe the rumours that were going round the paddock.


Fans had two major ideas of what it could be as he said he did not like the rumour, hoping it wouldn't be true. It was either Fernando Alonso retiring or Sergio Perez losing his seat at Red Bull.


If the latter is true, then would could take the seat? Daniel Ricciardo performed impressively last weekend in Mexico, qualifying fourth and finishing the race seventh for AlphaTauri. This allowed the Faenza team to jump up to eighth from the bottom, which could be huge for their season. 


Ricciardo ha already had a stint at Red Bull, being teammates with Verstappen. However, the Australian left the Austrian team due to him thinking that they preferred the Dutchman over him in 2018.


Another name that has been circling round is Fernando Alonso. This one may be wide of the mark. However, the Spaniard cannot be happy with Aston Martin's recent downfall in performance. The Silverstone team were Red Bull's closest challenger, but now, they have dropped to fifth in the constructors' championship.


Was Perez's Turn One move at Mexico out of desperation?


Perez came into last weekend's race with a point to prove. The Mexican did a lot of simulator work to prepare him for his much-loved home race in Mexico City.


The 33-year-old would qualify within two tenths of his teammate. However, he would still be fifth and was also out-qualified by Daniel Ricciardo in the AlphaTauri.


In the race, the Mexican had an insane start and picked up the tow from the cars ahead going into Turn One. However, the Red Bull driver was a bit too ambitious, trying to go round the outside three-wide to try and take the lead of the race.


However, this would backfire as he would turn into Charles Leclerc's Ferrari, damaging his car significantly, leading to him retiring from his home race on lap one.


As an experienced driver, it seemed to be a rookie mistake. Therefore, could have it been out of desperation to perform to try and retain his seat for 2024?


Nathan Hartley

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