Rumors swirled yesterday that Sergio Pérez would announce his retirement at the Mexican GP. Those rumors have since been emphatically denied by Pérez and Red Bull, and even the infamously anti-Pérez Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko said he “didn’t know anything” about the reports. Still, there is no denying that Pérez has underperformed, and Red Bull has questions about why.
In the wake of the rumors reported on by Sports Illustrated, Pérez reminded assembled media that he “has a contract for next year” and is “motivated to continue.” He continued to emphatically deny the retirement rumors, saying he “wants to continue for more years, because I think I still have a lot to give in Formula 1. I want to stay in F1 for at least another 3-4 years." The original retirement reports were attributed to a person linked with Telmex, a major sponsor of Pérez.
The rumors come amongst Pérez’s largest performance slump yet. The six-time Grand Prix winner has struggled to match teammate Max Verstappen in the second half of the season. He has scored similar points in the last 12 races as he did in the first six races of the year, and has been undeniably struggling with the development of Red Bull’s 2023 F1 car. According to The Race, Pérez has most recently explained his performance gap. “It felt like the car went away from me,” said Perez after the Qatar sprint race. “And I had to start chasing always the balance and compromise.”
With Red Bull, performance is everything, and drivers have rarely been given the time and space Pérez has gotten. Pierre Gasly was given half a season before being swapped for Alex Albon. Albon got swapped for Pérez after just one full season because of his struggles with the aggressive Red Bull. Since Pérez did not come from the Red Bull junior program, he likely has a much different contractual agreement to Gasly and Albon that protects him from being replaced.
For the moment, Pérez’s seat is safe. But things change quickly in F1, and there’s no such thing as an airtight contact. If he doesn’t find his form and start delivering for himself and Red Bull, these rumors might become true.
Got a tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org