Red Bull Extends Sergio Perez’s F1 Contract Through 2024
Perez is set to become Verstappen’s longest-running teammate in F1.
It's official, this year's Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix winner will be staying at Red Bull Racing for a couple more years—through the end of 2024. Sergio "Checo" Perez, the most successful Mexican F1 driver in history whose career nearly ended just a year and a half ago, announced a two-year contract extension today.
Perez, 32, has started 220 grand prix and just hit four figures in career points, with his Monaco win taking him to 1006 total. He's never had the most straightforward or luckiest of careers, starting at Sauber in 2011 in a cursed rookie year that began with a disqualification in Australia, a failure to start the race in Monaco, and plenty of retirements along the way. Despite this, he managed a couple of visits to the podium and memorable fights on the track, some even with two-time champion Fernando Alonso.
He then moved to McLaren for a single year in 2013 to partner Jenson Button—which was rather chaotic—before switching to the team then known as Force India. Perez stayed at the team through some extremely rough years, including having to invoke his own sponsor contract in order to force the team into a position where it could be sold to Lawrence Stroll. Who then, err, fired him later on for Sebastian Vettel. Before Perez left the team, however, he took his first win in the dramatic 2020 Sakhir race—which admittedly saved his entire career.
Twelve days later, he'd signed with Red Bull to replace Alex Albon. It's not a massively envied position, the second seat in the Red Bull team. From Mark Webber's resentment of Sebastian Vettel to Daniil Kvyat's 2016 mid-season firing, through to Daniel Ricciardo's frustration with favoritism of Max Verstappen and then Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon seemingly being made to look like fools, the second seat at the Red Bull squad has never been the most desirable by any means.
But Perez broke the curse last year by getting a one-year extension and now has the biggest contract awarded to any Red Bull driver not called Max Verstappen for some time, as he's signed for 2023 and 2024. A few years ago, Albon or Gasly would've been grateful to have guaranteed employment through to the end of the current season, so this is big news for Perez and a major endorsement of how important Red Bull thinks he is to the team.
“For me, this has been an incredible week, winning the Monaco Grand Prix is a dream for any driver and then to follow that with announcing I will continue with the team until 2024 just makes me extremely happy," said Perez to the media. "I am so proud to be a member of this team and I feel completely at home here now.
"We are working very well together and my relationship with Max, on and off the track, is definitely helping drive us forward even more," Perez assured. "We have built tremendous momentum as a team and this season is showing that, I am excited to see where that can take us all in the future.”
In drivers' market terms, it puts an end to rumors that Alonso (of all people) was being spoken to by Red Bull and the hopes and dreams not just of Gasly ever getting back to the top team, but the five Red Bull-backed junior drivers currently lurking a step below F1, in Formula 2. Unless Gasly's moved on at the end of this year (and strange rumors do circulate that he could be in the picture for a McLaren drive), then this locks a lot of the grid for a few years.
Perez might have spoilered the move himself on Sunday, as he was heard on the TV broadcast saying to Christian Horner while walking to the podium: "I probably signed too early."
Could've asked for a few more mill' Checo...
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