(GMM) Dr Helmut Marko has brushed aside new claims suggesting Sergio Perez may be ousted at the end of the season.
At Zandvoort, Mexican Perez was a massive 1.3 seconds slower than dominant teammate Max Verstappen’s pole position time.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Auto Motor und Sport that the result is bizarre.
“Perez isn’t an idiot,” he said. “He’s a multiple grand prix winner who knows how to drive fast. That’s why it’s hard to understand how the gap can be so huge.
“On the other hand, we saw that Max destroyed all his previous teammates. Maybe it’s because he has the car built around his preferences.”
This week, Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper that although Perez has a contract in his pocket for 2024, “nothing is 100 percent certain in Formula 1”.
“There are always performance-related situations somewhere that need to be discussed. We’ll take a look and discuss how to proceed in Zandvoort, then we’ll know more,” the 80-year-old added.
But in Friday at Zandvoort, the man most strongly linked with Perez’s 2024 cockpit – Daniel Ricciardo – broke his hand at the wheel of the Alpha Tauri.
Suddenly, Marko is saying Perez is safe for 2024.
“Everything is clear for 2024,” the Austrian insisted.
For his part, Ricciardo will be hoping his latest stint on the bench will be short, especially as he will be treated by the esteemed motor racing surgeon Xavier Mir this week.
“He’s left for Barcelona already,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on Saturday.
“We know from MotoGP how fast these guys recover. Perhaps tomorrow he will have a small operation to fix the fracture.
“Any normal person would probably be out for 10 to 12 weeks, but we know these guys are not normal,” he smiled. “Is it three weeks, a month, six weeks? Nobody knows that yet.”
Ricciardo’s Alpha Tauri substitute, rookie Liam Lawson, qualified dead last on Saturday but Marko insisted the changeable conditions “could not have been more difficult” for the New Zealander.