Red Bull opens door to 2023 driver change
"We focus entirely on performance"
Red Bull is leaving the door open to a driver change for 2023.
World champion Max Verstappen is firmly under contract for the future, although Dr Helmut Marko recently admitted that an exit clause could be triggered by the Dutchman "if we experience a ’crash’ like in 2014".
The real question mark is about Sergio Perez’s cockpit, with Alpha Tauri Pierre Gasly unashamedly pushing hard to get a new opportunity to shine alongside Verstappen.
"Gasly has a contract until 2023, so we still have time," Marko told the Scandinavian broadcaster Viaplay.
"We focus entirely on performance, as we always do at Red Bull," the 78-year-old insisted.
It’s clear, therefore, that the occupant of the seat in 2023 will be the winner of a head-to-head this season based on Gasly and Perez’s on-track performance.
Perez, on a second consecutive one-year contract this year, gave his case a boost with pole in Saudi Arabia.
"It was a great lap," Marko said. "He had a hard time especially in qualifying last year.
"We were surprised that Perez persevered so much," he added. "He’s a good teammate and the two drivers understand each other well.
"We have a one-year contract with Perez so we’ll see how it goes and decide around the summer holidays who to put next to Verstappen in 2023."
As for Verstappen, the Dutchman said in Melbourne that Red Bull’s performance was "unacceptable", but Marko tipped him for long-term glory in F1.
"He is already the fastest driver - now he can become one of the best drivers ever," said the Austrian.
What may be reassuring for Verstappen is that Red Bull looks more than likely to become Porsche’s works partner once the VW-owned brand enters F1 in 2026.
"In the past we have often discussed cooperation with the Volkswagen Group," Marko revealed. "Now we hear that they want to enter F1.
"Of course we are a logical partner," he said. "We’re going to talk to them and see if we’re on the same page."