Perez ’will lose his place’ at Red Bull
"The mental factor is very, very important"
Sergio Perez’s future at Red Bull became even more clouded on Friday when he crashed during his opening practice laps at the Hungaroring.
With Daniel Ricciardo back in racing action in the Red Bull family this weekend and Yuki Tsunoda also still shining in the sister Alpha Tauri, former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher said the crash was the last thing Perez needed.
"This cannot happen," he told Sky Deutschland. "I predict he will lose his place in the long run.
"And maybe Ricciardo’s return to the wheel of Red Bull is closer than we all think."
Most believe the 33-year-old is now spiralling downwards as the pressure mounts.
"The mental factor is very, very important," Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost told Bild newspaper when asked about Perez’s situation.
"You win and lose races in your head. Formula 1 is a very tough business."
Worse still for Perez is that he crashed before collecting any data for Red Bull about its new and rare-in-2023 car update.
"Now he has no more spare parts," Dr Helmut Marko confirmed.
However, with Perez already contracted for 2024 - and with multiple powerful Mexican sponsors part of the deal - Marko insists that his seat is safe for now.
"If Ricciardo presents himself well, he could certainly be an issue for Red Bull Racing in the future," said Marko.
"But that will certainly only be possible after the end of the 2024 season, when Perez’s contract expires."
Marko told motorsport-magazin.com that, on Friday, Ricciardo was "close to Tsunoda" except on the soft tyres in qualifying trim.
"He needs to improve on the fast lap to get more in qualifying - that’s our goal," he said. "There is still a third training session for this so I hope we can solve these problems."
Alpha Tauri’s Tost believes Japanese Tsunoda will also be a candidate for Perez’s top seat.
"Of course that depends on the further results," he said. "There are already discussions with our partner Honda.
"If you take this year’s performances, you can assume that it can happen."
For his part, Perez admitted he simply made a mistake on Friday - on top of five consecutive failures to even reach Q3 recently.
"It’s nothing different from what could happen to any driver on the grid," he told DAZN in Hungary. "We all have good and bad moments."
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