Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks with Red Bull Racing Team Consultant Dr Helmut Marko in the garage during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on August 26, 2023 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 News: Perez’s biggest weakness is qualifying – Marko

(GMM) Sergio Perez is closing on a new deal with Red Bull for 2025 if he can continue to score a lot of points, according to Dr Helmut Marko.

On the face of it, given Perez’s struggle to keep up with Max Verstappen, and rumors linking Verstappen with the exit door, Red Bull is very much a player in the 2025 driver ‘silly season’.

Melbourne winner and Ferrari refugee Carlos Sainz would seem to be a leading candidate.

“Verstappen is number 1 at Red Bull,” F1 legend Hans-Joachim Stuck told Eurosport Germany, “so perhaps he has a say in who his teammate is.

“If that is the case, I would assume that he is happy with Perez because he has nothing to worry about.”

There are signs, though, that Verstappen’s current comfortable era at Red Bull is ending. For instance, his long-time chief mechanic Lee Stevenson is leaving the team.  The Brit will start working for the Stake F1 (Sauber) team at the Japanese Grand Prix. Stake F1 will officially be Audi’s factory team from 2026.

Stevenson has already flown with his new employer to Japan, where next weekend’s Grand Prix at the iconic Suzuka circuit takes place. In the pit box of Stake F1, he will start his new position with the team: as one of the Chief Mechanics.

Not just that, Adrian Newey is believed to have been offered a huge-money offer to switch to Aston Martin. That could tie into new rumors that Red Bull’s entire Austrian contingent could drop F1 and leave it to the Thai faction – which may explain the sudden quieting in the Christian Horner affair.

And that, in turn, could mean Marko and even Verstappen could be next to depart.

“I’m flying to Japan,” Marko confirmed to Laola1.

When asked for an update about the management power struggle, the 80-year-old answered: “For the Thai shareholders, everything is clear. Everything is fine for them.

“Whether anything else will come or not, I have no idea. It is a very complex matter that is difficult to understand.”

But what about his own role in F1?: “There are always conversations and discussions,” Marko explained. “My direct supervisor is Oliver Mintzlaff,” he said.

“But right now, we have other concerns than what I’m doing.” He says he hardly speaks with Red Bull’s Thai 51 percent owner Chalerm Yoovidhya, adding: “The conversations usually go through the British lawyer Peter Blake-Turner.”

Red Bull Racing Team boss Christian Horner and Chalerm Yoovidhya
Red Bull Racing Team boss Christian Horner and Chalerm Yoovidhya at the 2024 Bahrain GP

As for Perez, as the situation currently stands, Marko sounds reluctant to install a new teammate alongside Verstappen.

“Sainz’s form is fascinating, of course,” the 80-year-old said. “But you have to understand that Perez did well in all three races this year so far. The fact that he fell behind in Melbourne was due to a damaged floor and tire degradation.

“His only weak point is his qualifying. If he can improve his results there, we won’t need to think about replacing him. The atmosphere in the team is good and he feels comfortable here.”

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