(Motorsport-Total.com) – On Tuesday after the Monaco Grand Prix, Red Bull officially confirmed the extension of Sergio Perez’s contract until the end of 2024. It was apparently signed before the race on Sunday – but Perez denied it at the FIA press conference in the afternoon Sunday.
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It’s all done already: Perez and Horner at the awards ceremony in Monaco
One scene was revealing when Perez put his hand on the back of his team boss Christian Horner on his way to the awards ceremony and said, “Maybe I fell too soon!” Presumably with a Monaco win behind him, he will have a strong case for a higher fee.
A scene that did not go unnoticed. A journalist later asked Perez if this was a reference to a contract that might have already been signed. But: “I meant the champagne bottle. We’ll see,” Perez said Sunday. Verstappen: “What I did today can only help you a little.”
In hindsight, by then everything might have been over. There were indications that Perez would stay before then. The Mexican is much closer to Verstappen in 2022 than he was in 2021, meanwhile, the outstanding performance of Pierre Gasly in the AlphaTauri, who has been traded as a possible successor, has yet to materialize.
Marco: Perez “resource of points and help Max”
Already in Miami Helmut Marko said about a possible contract extension with Perez: “We appointed him last year as a reliable supplier of points and help Max. He did it perfectly and within a year he took an important step forward. He is in one range. Or twenty of Max, offers Great races. We are very satisfied.”
When ServusTV asked him if he could see the potential of the world champions in Perez, Marco replied hesitantly: “Well, yes too.” The truth is that after seven out of 22 races, Perez finished third in the drivers’ championship, just 15 points behind Verstappen and six points behind Charles Leclerc.
“Checo is in the shape of his life,” Horner said right after Monaco, but before the contract was announced. Monaco “Not a flash. He was in pole position in Jeddah, he’s in really great shape. That’s great for us. And we need two drivers who work together like us because Ferrari has the fastest car.”
On Sunday evening there was silence
When asked if there was still any doubt about Perez for 2023, Horner replied after Sunday’s race: “He meets all the requirements. I don’t currently see any reason to look outside the driver pair that we currently have.” and: “In due course we will inform you of our plans.” The “set time” was two days later.
Horner also tried on Sunday night not to interfere with the agreement that had already been reached. When a reporter indicated that Perez’s manager was in Monaco, he replied: “He was also in Miami. And in Bahrain. If there is something to be said about ‘Checo’, we will say it.”
Verstappen on Monaco, Red Bull and the world title: ‘I always want the best results’
Max Verstappen in an exclusive interview at the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Checo” is doing a great job, Horner said. He drives at a very high level. He feels more comfortable with the team this year. And the car fits him better, too. It doesn’t have some of the characteristics we had in the last three cars and we as a team are very pleased with its performance.”
The Perez player has a convincing argument
After Barcelona, where Perez was initially a bit upset after being ‘half a team request’, the contract extension comes just in time for Red Bull’s mood. Perez had previously noted that it was “never easy” to “get a new contract from Helmut and Christian”.
It is very important for Red Bull in this context: “Cheko is a team player,” emphasizes Horner. “I don’t think anyone in the pit lane does it better than him.” Verstappen also thinks: “Why should we change anything? We work well together as a team.”
The Dutchman said: “We also accept, if the other person does a better job, and I think that is very important in order to treat each other with respect. In the end, the better person should win.” A possible duel in the World Cup will not stand in the way. Perez smiles at Verstappen: “We’re still in love, right?”