Vulnerable Red Bull Threatened By Big New Player In Volatile Drivers Market: “It’s A Bit Strange”

Vulnerable Red Bull Threatened By Big New Player In Volatile Drivers Market: "It's A Bit Strange"
Credits: IMAGO / Motorsport Images

The 2025 driver market was always going to be a chaotic one with almost 13 driver contracts expiring this season. Now, amid this driver market chaos, one would have thought that Red Bull would have their lineup sorted. However, the champion team are in a fix with both of its seats for the near future. On the one hand, there has been the unlikely yet huge possibility of Max Verstappen leaving the team amid their internal chaos. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez’s future has been the point of contention at Red Bull for a year now. Amid this, Helmut Marko feels that their future potential rival player – Audi – is pressurizing the driver market to explode further for their 2026 lineup.

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Speaking to Motorsport.com, Marko stated how the driver market “exploded in April” itself after the high-profile move of Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari, a couple of months ago. This move opened up several driver move possibilities for racers like Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz.

On the other hand, Audi, due to enter F1 in 2026, is aggressively looking to secure top drivers for their lineup. The German brand knows how this year’s silly season could be wide open and they need to capitalize on securing the best talent for their 2026 entry.

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Now, Marko gave his views on same by stating, “I don’t know what is going on. I have heard that Audi is making pressure, but it is a little bit strange for a newcomer to make pressure on the driver market.”

The Austrian advisor has been the leading voice and decision-maker for both of Red Bull’s teams in terms of recruiting drivers. The 80-year-old knows that the existing drivers on the grid such as Sainz and Alonso would be on the move for 2025.

So, teams like Audi (currently Sauber), Aston Martin, and Mercedes will be aggressive in driver recruitment and it could affect Red Bull’s lineup if they want to replace one of their drivers [primarily Perez].

Has Sergio Perez secured his future at Red Bull?

Sergio Perez has started the 2024 season on the front foot. It doesn’t seem like the Mexican driver is carrying any baggage of his struggles from last season and is backing Max Verstappen’s wins with solid P2 finishes. Given this is what Red Bull expect from him, one can easily see the Austrian team retaining the six-time race winner for the 2025 season.

While Helmut Marko has hinted that they would want to give Perez a one-year extension only, the 34-year-old will take what he gets, given the amount of stress he has faced on potentially losing his drive. Perez himself commented that he is expecting to hear about his contract extension for 2025 in a month’s time.

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The #11 driver knows how volatile this year’s driver market could become for next season. So, securing his seat on the champion team would allow him to keep performing consistently and be stress-free in terms of his F1 future.

On top of that, Perez seems to be the favorite to keep his seat for Red Bull currently, given the way his potential replacement options are performing. Daniel Ricciardo, who many touted to be Perez’s replacement at the Milton Keynes outfit for 2025, has had a wretched start to this season.

On the other hand, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda has performed well, but it is unlikely he will get a promotion, as many suggest Red Bull don’t consider him a serious contender. While there is also the possibility of outside hires like Carlos Sainz or Fernando Alonso, the Austrian team will have to be careful while signing any of the two Spaniards because of the potentially stressful relationship they could have with Max Verstappen.

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