Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Istanbul Park, 2020

Perez: Late Red Bull decision means a sabbatical is an option

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez has admitted he may have to take a sabbatical from driving during the 2021 F1 season as Red Bull have not yet decided whether they want him to drive for them next year.

The Racing Point driver is under consideration for Alexander Albon’s place at Red Bull next year. But with the team yet to make its decision, Perez’s alternatives are becoming increasingly limited.

“At the moment we just have to wait and see,” Perez told media in Turkey. “The season is coming soon to an end and as I’ve said before until the teams announce the driver everything is an option. Every team that hasn’t announced their line-up, it’s an option. So we’ll see.”

Perez said he needs a decision on his plans in the near future.

“We are not that far from the season to end, so definitely I have to know my plans, I need to know what will happen in my side to be able to plan everything.

Drivers, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
2021 F1 drivers and teams
“It’s happening now too late, we’re already close to December, so there is not a lot more to be had in that regard.”

The Racing Point driver has accepted that if he does not get a drive at Red Bull he may have to accept not racing in Formula 1 at all.

“Everything is so late now it looks like I will know whether I continue in Formula 1 or not quite late in the year,” he said. “So I think a sabbatical, it’s an option. We’ll see what what happens in the next couple of weeks.”

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2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Perez: Late Red Bull decision means a sabbatical is an option”

  1. I think he’s waiting too long. Holding out for the possibility of a Red Bull drive while other, admittedly less attractive options are around. He’s risking still being standing when the music stops and trusting Red Bull to go outside their driver programme seems like a very risky option.

    1. It may be risky, but what does he have to lose. He has been running around in the midfield for a number of years now and if he signs for Haas that’s what he will be continuing to do. RedBull is his best opportunity of his career to be able to score wins / podiums. I’m sure he’s financially secure, so maybe he is driven more by the possibility of wins rather than ore years running around.

    2. I think the reward outweight a possible no drive in F1. He allready said he didn’t want to return too a backmarker again.
      The money he gets from RP buy out makes he financially secure indeed.

    3. trusting Red Bull to go outside their driver programme seems like a very risky option

      Personally I don’t think so. Not once has Red Bull ever promoted a driver from within their driver programme directly to Red Bull, without 1 or 2 years at Toro Rosso. There is no indication that it will happen now. Clearly Red Bull will not pick Gasly or Kvyat for the seat, so it will be Albon, Hülkenberg or Perez. Personally I think Albon is out and it will be Hülkenberg or Perez. No idea who they wil favour.

      I am with @f-duct on this one. It’s either Haas or Red Bull for Perez so I understand Perez’ hesitation.

      1. Nit-picking here as they were their first drivers after buying the team from Jaguar, but Webber and Coulthard didn’t have any prior links to Red Bull before they were signed, and certainly neither drove for Toro Rosso or even Minardi.

        1. Mark Webber did drive for Minardi, and how! He scored a surprise 5th place in his first race at the 2002 Australian GP!
          Also noteworthy is Vitantonio Liuzzi, a Red Bull junior graduate who went the other way driving for Red Bull in 2005 and Toro Rosso in 2006-2007.

      2. @matthijs Already pointed out by @hollidog, but most recently Mark Webber from Williams for 2007.
        @Bart Yes, he did drive for Minardi, the predecessor of Toro Rosso, but that team didn’t have anything to do with Red Bull in general, so doesn’t count.

        1. @hollidog @jerejj Sorry if I wasn’t clear. What I meant is that there has never been someone from their junior driver programme that debuted in f1 directly with Red Bull Racing and not with Toro Rosso or Alpha Tauri first*. Rookies don’t race for RBR. There is no indication that 2021 will be different. And with Gasly and Kvyat not in the running for the seat and Albon most likely out, RBR will go for Perez or Hülkenberg.

          * I was wrong, Liuzzi debuted with RBR, but back then the team was een rookie themselves too.

    4. But what other options does he have? Surely holding out for the 2nd best team on the grid is worth a throw of the dice?

    5. @rocketpanda as others have noted, does Perez realistically have any other options elsewhere on the grid?

      Out of the 20 seats available per year, 15 of those are already accounted for. Out of the remaining five, Hamilton is expected to renew his contract at Mercedes and Tsunoda is expected to sign for Alpha Tauri so, at best, there are only three seats left available – the second seat at Red Bull, and the two seats available at Haas.

      With Haas, the rumours so far are pointing towards Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin being signed there – and, in all honesty, it’s hard to see Perez being able to win a seat there.

      Mick’s name means that Perez won’t be able to match the publicity that Mick will bring, and that attention would potentially attract quite a few sponsors to Haas (let alone any potential backing for Mick or any contribution from Ferrari). Mazepin, meanwhile, seems likely to be prepared to outbid any contribution the Slim family might make, so his odds of that seat also don’t look great.

      Practically speaking, therefore, Perez might as well gamble on the second Red Bull seat – the odds of getting a seat at Haas, which is his only real alternative, don’t look great, so it’s worth taking the long shot option with Red Bull given he probably doesn’t really have much to lose at this point.

      1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
        12th November 2020, 21:41

        Wait Latifi has another season at William’s. Williams are so uninspiring which is so sad…

    6. ..and IF they do, Dr. Marko will choose Nico Hülkenberg.

    7. If Hamilton does retire, then it will be a “perfect waiting” when all drivers got signed.
      It will be hilarious if Perez ends with options for two of the best seats in F1 !

  2. If it’s really Perez vs Albon for the seat, then I think he’s making the right choice in waiting it out. Being stuck at Haas isn’t a great move for him at this stage of his career and he may not even be interested in them, whereas Red Bull offers a challenge he will no doubt believe he can rise to. He’s certainly a better driver now than in his Mclaren days.

    I think he’s favourite for the RB seat. Albon just hasn’t stepped up as the team needed and unless they’re radically changing the way the car handles for next year, I can’t see any reason for that to change. Perez seems the better option to back up Max, and RB need consistency from both drivers in the run up to the big rule changes.

    1. @simon999 Why do you think Hülkenberg is out of the equation? I can understand if he is, I am just curious.

      1. In fairness, he probably isn’t out of the equation at all. The reasons I personally think he isn’t the most likely choice is (a) being out of F1 at the moment – his performance coming back at short notice have been decent, but it’s still a potentially bigger risk – and (b) the fact he never managed to get a podium despite a number of chances, which makes me wonder whether he is able to truly maximise the potential of a car.

        I don’t know if Hulkenberg might be better than Perez at adapting to a difficult car, but the other factors seem to swing more in favour of Perez than Hulkenberg I think.

        1. @simon999 Perez and Hülkeberg are pretty much in the same league, but Perez brings money, is still an active driver and is known to maximizing podium possibilities unlike Hülkenberg. I just think of the positive atmosphere Nico seemed to bring when he substituted for Racing Point, as if he was able to pinpoint deficits in the car’s balance or setup that Perez or Stroll weren’t able to. Most likely it was mostly pr stuff to hype Hülkenberg.

    2. I think it is extremely unlikely that Albon will keep the Red Bull seat. Horner gave him two races to prove himself, and he scored zero points in those two races, which was purely his own fault. If Horner keeps Albon, it means he was lying about Albon having two races to prove himself, but even if he still hasn’t decided on his second driver, I can’t see Albon improving enough over the final four races to keep his drive.

      1. I am going to be first one to call this.
        Albon will drive for RB in 2021.
        Irrespective of how his performance for remaining races. I am convinced Marko and Horner want him in the seat next year and they don’t wanna hire from outside. What I do think will happen is between now and end of the season Albon will luck into a podium finish or a good result, both Marko and Horner will use that to justify him being retained. And even if that doesn’t happen they will just say he has done enough to retain his seat. I think it’s very likely RB knows this is a very hard car to drive and that any new driver will need time, to drive to the cars potential. They know Albon is in best place to be able to adapt to the car next year and hopefully close the gap to Max

  3. It will be better to keep quiet about such things. He cannot try to force the hands of Redbull as that would be counter productive. Teams like Redbull like to make their announcements at their own time. You cannot trust that Perez wont reveal to the press their decision whatever the outcome.

    1. I think it is a response to a question by the media. It is difficult to keep quiet about such things if the media asks you. Probably they asked him “What are your plans for next year?” and he replied “At the moment we just have to wait and see. The season is coming soon to an end and as I’ve said before until the teams announce the driver everything is an option. Every team that hasn’t announced their line-up, it’s an option. So we’ll see.”

      It feels like the safest answer. It would have been much more suspicious had he said “No comment”.

    2. I think Perez has generally been pretty excellent with how he’s dealt with the questioning. He’s always said he wants to keep business like this private. I actually respect that.

    3. He’s just letting Red Bull know that they can take as long as they like to make the decision

    4. I’m just surprised Red Bull is even letting Perez entertain the idea that he has a chance there. Maybe they want to prevent him going to Renault and being a competitor by pretending they are interested so he’ll miss out on anything else?

      1. @balue this would be the Renault team which already has two drivers signed for 2021 (Ocon and Alonso)?

  4. I’m ready for the Hulkenberg podium redemption arc.

  5. Come on Red Bull, it’s obvious Perez is an upgrade on Albon, who isn’t going to get any better there. Perez (or Hulk) aren’t MV level but their experience will help close the gap and they should be less intimidated by the situation. The only way a young driver could go into that seat and survive is if he was close or equal to Max in talent. A virtually impossible ask. But if the new driver were virtually as good? Lecerc-level say? Red Bull would have a problem. So the situation, IMO, is insoluble with a young driver who’s simply good, not brilliant. That’s why Ricciardo was such a good fit.

  6. For me, it smells more like he is trying to get better offer from HAAS than a serious negotiation with Redbull. Redbull want a driver that, at least, can drive within 3 tenths from Verstappen. I think that they are not completely sure that Perez can do that, neither Hulkenberg nor Albon… so Redbull is not in a hurry to hire any of these drivers for the moment and may not care too much about what they say to the media.

    1. I’d be stunned. It sounds like Haas have their driver line-up complete. To me, I think the ball is in Red Bull’s court and they’re still trying to decide what to do with regards to Albon.

  7. All or nothing for Perez at this point in his career. If Redbull can’t think outside the box and live up to their edgy image and hire him, he’d be better off looking outside of F1.

    I can see him challenging for the Indy championship. His excellent tyre management would make even more of a difference in Indy, especially ovals.

    1. Fair comment. I don’t think there are any good drives still going in Indy next season, but with his backing he might still find a decent mid pack team willing to take him on and target odd victories. Would also give him chance to get familiar and up to speed for a better assault the following year if F1 was completely lost.

      I do wonder what impact losing Petez would have on the Mexican GP. I imagine crowds might drop, likewise promoter funding.

        12th November 2020, 21:13

        Don’t think crowds will drop we Mexicans love the sport even when there is no Mexican driver on it, support for the race will have some trouble since the current government (federal and city) are not giving money for the event this year was saved by the Slim and friends support of course due to the pandemic was not in the calendar, so with Checo out maybe even the race in Mexico City will be also out.

  8. I think Pérez has it well guarded, he already knows his future, but he can’t say it.

    Why do I believe this? If Checo did not have a seat in F1, Indycar is waiting for him with open arms, Pérez would be a great addition to the Indi championship, and more than one team would already be announcing their talks or their approaches with Pérez , and this has not happened, and it has not happened because Perez already has a seat in F1 and cannot advertise it.

    There are many commercial brands involved that are supporting Checo, and incorporating him into the RedBull project is not going to be easy. I believe that the delay in the announcement is due to a trademark issue. Even BWT said it would be willing to follow Checo in case of no place at Aston Martin.

    And not to mention the matter, is that Marco and the entire RedBull team are distracting attention with the subject of Albon, so they no longer ask about Pérez.

    …it is my opinion.

    1. IndyCar is more like F2. I seriously doubt he’d prefer taking such a step back unless he really really needs to.

      F1 drivers generally prefer a seat in Formula E before IndyCar.

      Besides, Perez is probably expecting an “F1 salary”. He would get a fraction of that in IndyCar.

      1. I think it’s rather dubious to say that Indycar is a step down from Formula E. The Indy 500 is famous, FE doesn’t have a single race of significant prestige. In fact, the FIA would disagree with you, too. Indycar awards more superlicense points than FE.

  9. I don’t understand what are red bull waiting for. Albon is not getting quicker and he is not even close to red bull material. Just sign perez already. It is a total no brainer. Red bull has two sensible options. Perez and hulk. I would have already put hulk into the red bull for the rest of the season. Is there a benefit for red bull to score less points somehow? Have they found a loophole? There has to be a weird reason to handicap themselves in this way.

    1. they’re probably waiting till after Abu Dhabi. and they’re probably not willing to break Albon’s contract , they’re going to come in second in the Constructors’ anyway

  10. LOL, @keithcollantine, nice photo on the article!

    Perez is cut from Racing Point and both Haas drivers are out.
    Albon and Kvyat are To Be Decided so they are there.

    Just as the situation as it is right now. Really good one!

  11. I have seen Checo very steady, very relaxed, answering media questions without much hesitation, he is driving very well, I believe his future is clear to him. Whatever it is.

  12. Red bull does cut rumours immediately and without shame, so Perez is a real option. However Redbull have all the cards and therefore no need to do nothing rush, a driver with so many sponsors and wannabe sponsors brings big negotiations and options to the table, let alone a most likely complex driver contract after RP exit clause experience ….. is going to be presumably extra tight and redbull driver contract usually moves ask a lot as driver swap between red bull owned teams, even used for negotiations when engines been need, so it will be extenuating confrontation to say the least and not a distraction Redbull need to have at this point of the championship probably.

    However I expect very public disappointment from Redbull management if Albon doesn’t cut it this weekend, as in cold red bull perform well, as did RP.

  13. Compliments to all that gave their opinion on this debate about perez. I read almost all of it. All seem very measured in their responses. I would not like to see perez out next year. I do hope red bull make up their minds. It would be a really sad to see perez out. He is driving well.

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