Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021

Are Red Bull about to re-sign Perez? Eight Belgian GP talking points

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez said he expects to know his future before the Belgian Grand Prix. Will Red Bull announce a new deal for him at Spa?

In other talking points ahead of this weekend’s race, will Ferrari’s power unit upgrade give them a step forward, has Spa become too dangerous – and what effect will the new pit stop directive have?

Second season for Perez?

As the Formula 1 teams reconvene at Spa to begin a packed second half of the 2021 season, much speculation surrounds who Mercedes will announce as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate for next year. But with team principal Toto Wolff indicating that will be revealed in September, perhaps the next move in the driver market will happen elsewhere.

Red Bull has cause to be satisfied with Sergio Perez’s first half-season with them following his victory in Azerbaijan earlier this year. Are they ready to end speculation over who Max Verstappen’s team mate will be next year?

In Hungary, Perez said he expects his future to be sorted before the coming weekend. “Obviously the sooner you know your future the better,” he remarked. “But I’m in a very comfortable position within the team, with my future, so nothing to worry about.

“I think by Belgium I will know my future so I’m comfortable how things are and no reason to look elsewhere.”

How close is the title fight?

Mercedes struggled to beat Red Bull before their upgrade
Putting the Perez question to bed would remove one distraction from Red Bull’s increasingly close – and bitter – battle with Mercedes. Two serious setbacks for Verstappen in the races prior to the summer break allowed Hamilton to move ahead in the drivers’ championship battle while Mercedes did likewise in the constructors’.

Those two problems for Verstappen also obscured our view of the relative performance of the two teams. Mercedes introduced an aerodynamic update at Silverstone and Wolff – who normally plays a careful game of expectations management – said the car is now “in a better place”.

While we didn’t get to see how it would have fared in a flat-out fight against Verstappen’s Red Bull at Silverstone or the Hungaroring, Mercedes did drop a telling remark about their rivals’ performance last time out. The team’s head of trackside performance Andrew Shovlin admitted they were surprised to lead the Red Bulls in qualifying, and queried why they hadn’t run their maximum downforce rear wing.

“It seems odd that you would ever run anything other than your biggest rear wing here,” he said. “We don’t profess to know why they’re taking decisions on that car, but it could be that they were just struggling to get enough front end in it on the big wing and they dropped down on to the smaller one.”

But high-speed Spa-Francorchamps is not a venue where teams will be concerned about their balance on maximum downforce. Mercedes may therefore not enjoy the same apparent advantage they had in Hungary.

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Will Red Bull take their power unit penalties?

Start crash, Hungaroring, 2021
Bottas’ error cost Perez dearly in Hungary
Red Bull face another problem, one not of their own making. The damage done in the crashes for Verstappen at Silverstone and Perez in Hungary means both drivers have lost power units. They will therefore almost certainly have to use extra examples this year, dooming them to grid penalties. Depending on how many parts are changed, they will drop at least 10 places on the grid.

When and where should Red Bull take the penalties? There’s a strong case to be made for doing it this weekend. If a penalty is inevitable, better to take it at a track where overtaking is fairly straightforward, as at Spa.

Of the following events, Zandvoort is likely to be much harder to overtake at, and Monza is complicated by the fact it is a Sprint weekend and engine penalties apply to the grand prix, not Saturday’s qualifying race. Sochi is not the easiest track to pass on, though Alexander Albon raced from last to fifth after an engine penalty in 2019, aided by a usefully-timed Safety Car period. Beyond that significant question marks hang over the calendar, and at any rate it may not be possible to postpone the change any further.

Red Bull may therefore choose to take one, or both, of their engine penalties this weekend.

Power boost for Ferrari?

Heading into the summer break Ferrari revealed they will bring an update for their power unit in the second half of the season. Cunningly, the team held off updating some of its 2020-specification parts earlier this season, allowing them to spent more time working on the new hardware.

Introducing the new engine this weekend, at one of the most power-sensitive tracks on the calendar, would be ideal. Charles Leclerc needs a replacement anyway, as his was irreparably damaged when Lance Stroll took him out on the first lap in Hungary. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr will have to take a grid penalty if he has a new engine, having moved onto his third unit last time out.

The update could tip the balance of power in the battle for third place in the championship into Ferrari’s favour. They drew level on points with McLaren at the Hungaroring.

Will diluted pit stop directive make a difference?

Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2021
Will we still see sub-two-second pit stops?
A hue and cry went up when it emerged the FIA intended to introduce rules forcing teams to slow down their pit stops from the Hungarian Grand Prix. The new restrictions threatened to weaken a key area of Red Bull’s superiority.

However, as RaceFans subsequently revealed, the plans were watered down and postponed to the upcoming race in Belgium. Significantly, several of the minimum reaction times have been dropped. Sunday’s race will provide the first indication of whether this hotly disputed rules change will amount to anything significant.

More slipstream antics?

In Hungary we saw the championship contenders getting in each others’ way at the end of Q3, trying to avoid losing time in the slipstream of a rival.

At Spa the situation is different – running near enough to a rival in qualifying can bring a significant lap time gain. Those who reach Q3 will therefore be eager to avoid running without a slipstream, and as we’ve seen before, this can lead to congestion at the end of the session, and drivers missing their chances to set times or having their runs ruined.

Is Raidillon safe enough?

Two years on from the Formula 2 crash at Raidillon which claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert and left Juan Manuel Correa seriously injured, another huge shunt at the same corner prompted concerns over its configuration. Formula 2 racer Jack Aitken was injured in a crash which involved three other drivers in the Spa 24 Hours earlier this month.

The shunt prompted Ferrari junior driver Callum Ilott to call for changes to the corner. “Enough is enough,” he wrote on social media. “If I’m wrong for chasing for better safety after seeing four of my friends involved in massive accidents then I may as well not be human,” Ilott added.

This weekend will also mark Correa’s racing return at the circuit for the first time since that crash, as he competes in the Formula 3 support races.

Schumacher following his father

Mick Schumacher, Jordan, 2021
Mick Schumacher drove his father’s Jordan
Today marks the 30th anniversary of Michael Schumacher’s Formula 1 debut. The seven-times world champion’s son Mick will make his first grand prix start at the circuit where his father enjoyed much success, including his breakthrough 1992 victory, his first of a record-setting 91.

The Haas driver recently had a chance to drive a Jordan 191 of the type his father used to make his grand prix debut. “The emotions and feeling and knowing that my dad raced this car as his first race car is very special,” he said.

“Unfortunately I didn’t have a seat in it, I only had a bit of foam so I was sliding around a lot. Especially every braking I was sliding so far down that I couldn’t see the track any more. So after every braking I had to push myself back up to see something.”

He also found the car’s H-pattern gearbox unfamiliar, being used to racing paddle shifts. “I was sitting in the car trying to figure out where the gears were and everything,” he admitted.

“It’s crazy to think about how far out you sit in that car. The shoulders were popping out of the side of the monocoque and then the front is very high so if you slide down you didn’t see much.

“But it was very nice. I have to say, it’s just pure racing. The engine, you can see everything. Nowadays, obviously with the battery and the hybrid era and stuff, a lot of things are covered so you don’t really see the engine, only if it’s taken apart. But in that car you actually see how the fuel runs into the engine. It was very good.”

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Author information

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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45 comments on “Are Red Bull about to re-sign Perez? Eight Belgian GP talking points”

  1. @Keith Collantine: 3 drama filled weekends for Max have allowed Hamilton to gain the lead.. of which 2 where race ending accidents caused by the Mercedes f1 drivers. Without the tyre drama in Baku, Max would have won that and the standings would look quite differently..

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th August 2021, 14:04

      You’re right about the drama part. The accident in Hungary wasn’t race ending – in fact, Verstappen posted the 4th quickest lap in the middle of the race and Hamilton was firmly behind Verstappen after the accident and the strategy mistake.

      As for Silverstone, imagine Hamilton and Alonso racing through Copse throughout the whole race as they did in Hungary. Do you think they would have collided? Hamilton simply capitalized on the fact that Verstappen makes mistakes under pressure. It wasn’t the only occasion this season. That’s his job.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        25th August 2021, 14:05

        My bad, you mentioned 2 and obviously were referring to Baku and Silverstone. Not sure why I thought you were referring to the Hungarian GP.

      2. @freelittlebirds

        The accident in Hungary wasn’t race ending

        Indeed, though the car was half damaged and almost undrivable.

        Hamilton simply capitalized on the fact that Verstappen makes mistakes under pressure.

        Can you elaborate more, apparently it’s actually the other way round. Hamilton is the one cracking under pressure this season. He made more rookie mistakes this year than Mick Schumacher.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          25th August 2021, 19:52

          @tifoso1989

          Indeed, though the car was half damaged and almost undrivable.

          I think Ricciardo’s car who was in front of Max was also in bad shape – hard to tell which one was worse but it does seem that Max had a 2+ second advantage over Daniel which helped him stick an overtake towards the end of the race.

          I also think Max posted faster laps then Ocon, Vettel, and Sainz but I could be wrong.

          Can you elaborate more, apparently it’s actually the other way round. Hamilton is the one cracking under pressure this season. He made more rookie mistakes this year than Mick Schumacher.

          Perhaps, that’s true. It depends on viewpoints. For a guy that’s under pressure, Lewis sure appears to be very calm. On the other hand, Verstappen does appear volatile on and off track especially in front of Lewis where you’d imagine he would have tried to keep his cool.

          1. someone or something
            25th August 2021, 22:28

            @freelittlebirds

            I also think Max posted faster laps then Ocon, Vettel, and Sainz but I could be wrong.

            Yeah, but what are we comparing here? Verstappen’s lap came early in his final stint, i.e. on fresh tyres. Ocon’s and Sainz’s fastest laps came 17 and 22 laps after their respective final pit stops, and were only half a second slower than Verstappen’s, i.e. much faster if you factor in tyre degradation.
            And if you look at the drivers that did set faster lap times than Verstappen, Alonso was on the same strategy and went 6 tenths faster in his fastest lap, which he also set around the same time as Verstappen. Driving an Alpine, which had been a second slower than the Red Bull in qualifying.
            And then Hamilton, who made his final pit stop 8 laps later than Verstappen did, and set his fastest lap time 6 laps after Verstappen, going 2.2 seconds (!) faster. Even after factoring in the weight of the fuel Hamilton was carrying at that stage (according to the circuit information, 0.059 seconds per lap, so 0.354 seconds), Hamilton was able to lap over 1.7 seconds quicker. In a car that had been just a few tenths quicker in qualifying. At the end of the day, all these fastest laps tell us is that the damage to Verstappen’s car was costing him about 1.5 seconds per lap – not counting additional disadvantages such as increased tyre wear due to the loss of downforce and stability.
            And that’s what makes all the difference. Hamilton was able to cut through the field like a warm-ish knife through butter, because he had enough of a pace advantage. Verstappen, however, was stuck near the end of the grid with a car that was barely able to lap faster than the cars around him – on a track where you needed an advantage of about 2 seconds per lap for a shot at an overtake. That’s how he ended up almost a lap behind, unable to take the fight to a Williams.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            26th August 2021, 3:38

            Was Alonso on the same compound as Verstappen on Lap 40? After the 1st lap, their pace was similar.

            I’m not saying Max’s car wasn’t compromised but I think we’ll all agree, if Max had been in front after lap 1 with that damaged car, he would have won the GP holding off Ocon and Vettel.

            Of course, Lewis was in his own world fighting for the championship lead and a victory so we’d expect him to break all records enroute to that.

          3. someone or something

            At the end of the day, all these fastest laps tell us is that the damage to Verstappen’s car was costing him about 1.5 seconds per lap – not counting additional disadvantages such as increased tyre wear due to the loss of downforce and stability.

            Exactly. When in free air after clearing Schumacher, between laps 14 and 19, Verstappen only managed to get closer to Ricciardo very slowly, less than three tenths per lap, even counting a period in which both were slightly delayed by Russell in his successful attempt to help Latifi ahead. Max only was able to overtake Daniel because apparently the damage on McLaren got even worse close to the end of the race, given his horrible lap times for his last 10 laps, or else it’d be simply not reasonable to expect such pass without a mistake, even against a rival with a heavily damaged car as well.
            Well, @freelittlebirds, I hope now it’s clear why FLAP is a very poor way of measuring cars and drivers’ maximum performance possible. Only after lots of considerations and variables isolated, you’re left with a rough estimate of what would be easily calculated otherwise for just one of many parts of a race, which is, relative pace for a certain driver at a given period of the race.

          4. someone or something
            26th August 2021, 9:39

            @freelittlebirds

            Was Alonso on the same compound as Verstappen on Lap 40? After the 1st lap, their pace was similar.

            No, Alonso was on the harder C2, just like Ocon, Vettel, and Sainz (and every other one-stopper, if you don’t count pit stops involving wet tyres).

            As for the rest of the comment, I feel we’re getting sidetracked. You started this branch of the discussion with this comment:

            The accident in Hungary wasn’t race ending – in fact, Verstappen posted the 4th quickest lap in the middle of the race and Hamilton was firmly behind Verstappen after the accident and the strategy mistake.

            Which heavily implied you thought Verstappen underperformed compared to the hand he was dealt.
            And to that I say, this simply wasn’t the case. Both his as well as Hamilton’s respective performances are readily explained by their cars’ pace compared to the cars ahead of them. So, no: Hamilton wasn’t breaking any records, either. His Mercedes was the sole remaining top-tier car in the field, and the near-total wipeout of the front-runners (Bottas out, Pérez out, Verstappen with heavy damage, Ricciardo with heavy damage, Norris out, Leclerc out, only Sainz left, but stuck behind Latifi and Tsunoda) resulted in a race that was led by cars that would’ve been lapped on a normal day, pursued by the one remaining car that would’ve lapped them.

      3. That’s rich. VER making mistakes under pressure…. I’m sure you meant HAM is making mistakes (a lot) under pressure this year. I don’t think Silverstone crash was a VER fault, or Baku, or Hungary.

        Reply moderated
        1. Absolutely, his comments are a joke, hamilton is making mistakes he’s barely paying for (imola) or he’s gaining from (silverstone), or having bottas make mistakes hamilton is gaining from (hungary).

  2. As non native, i tought the headline read that rebull was resigning perez, as in to fire him :s

    1. I thought that too! Resign and re-sign are way too similar looking for such opposite actions :-)

      1. As a help – ‘Resigning’ – when you leave the team/company is normally only used when it is the employee (so Perez in this instance) that has chosen it. So in situations like this you can tell it means that they (Red Bull) were going to re-sign him (Perez) on a new contract as opposed to firing him.
        I get for a non-native English speaker the two words would be confusing though!

        1. Very nice, Thomas. Thanks, mate!

        2. Yes, this is a mistake that I see often in italy too, people saying “mi licenzio” instead of “mi dimetto”, as in “I fire myself” instead of “I resign”, while firing should only be used when you are the boss and are firing some employee.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    25th August 2021, 14:14

    With the Ferrari improving its power, the fight between McLaren and Ferrari is going to get even more heated. They’re tied with 163 points apiece and I can’t help but feel that Daniel’s performance is going to be crucial. I’m not sure if he needs the extra pressure.

    I can’t wait to see Norris, Leclerc, and Sainz duke it out on track.

    This is shaping up to be very, very exciting and I hope Daniel can get his nose in there:-)

    1. @freelittlebirds

      Yes, that should be a good one to watch and agree about Ricciardo being the deciding factor. If he can score good points matching teammate and Ferrari, then I think McLaren could just nip it.

  4. Thought Mercedes was going to decide on their 2022 drivers during the break. Did I miss the announcement?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th August 2021, 14:45

      Resigning Perez is a tough call. I think he deserves it as a driver but I’m not sure his results have earned him a spot.

      But things are going to change next season and having Perez might put Red Bull in a situation where they have 2 great drivers. They also have Gasly available.

      As a “what if” scenario, I’d have loved to see Bottas go to Red Bull and see him against Verstappen. It’d be hilarious if the car suited him and he was outqualifying Verstappen ;-) I don’t believe that would be the case but anything can happen in F1 as we all know.

    2. Joe Pineapples
      25th August 2021, 16:05

      Toto had hinted recently, the decision/announcement might be delayed.

      1. It will be mid september i read somewhere

  5. Second season for Perez? – Yes.
    How close is the title fight? – Close.
    Will Red Bull take their power unit penalties? – Not yet, although possible as explained in the paragraph.
    Power boost for Ferrari? – I doubt.
    Will diluted pit stop directive make a difference? – No.
    More slipstream antics? – No. This has never really been an issue at Spa-Francorchamps anyway, so unlikely.
    Even Monza was like this only in 2019.
    Is Raidillon safe enough? – Yes. Not like incidents have happened every year, far from it, so mostly isolated cases over the years.

    1. @jerejj

      Second season for Perez? – I cant see any alternatives as of now. Gasly & RB have had history that most likely effects going back. Besides, Keeping Gasly at AlphaT is very good for RB. Gasly has been the heavy lifter on the team, looks good in the car and scoring very important WCC points which brings in many millions of dollars to the owner of Red Bull. Putting in Gasly in a RB may not provide any better results than Perez and then AT will be left with no good drivers who can score same amount of solid WCC points, perhaps losing its standings and hence many millions out of Dietrich Mateschitz pocket; so why rock the boat?

      Only replacement I could see is if George Russell doesn’t get the Merc ride and gets lured into teaming up with Verstappen. But I think that far from happening in reality. But I do think Russell’s patience has run out and wants to drive a winning car; can also see him maybe going to Mclaren if Ricciardo doesn’t improve his scoring. Time for Ricciardo to step up (tick-tock).

      How close is the title fight? – Agree its close. The season is only half over with all kinds of variables; a couple of unforced errors can change the points. I think we may see it coming down to the last race?

      Power boost for Ferrari? – I’m not sure I agree with you. They’re been developing heavily and introducing a new component that’s being made more for next year. Will it bring a power boost? – I think it will definitely but will it be in time to help Ferrari to beat McLaren this season? I’m not so sure and I think this new component is being introduced at the end of this year more to be vetted/tested for next year than to beat Mclaren but if they do beat Mclaren then I guess that will just be icing on the cake.

  6. After Gasly’s ‘good talk’ with Marko, it seems likely he will be in at Red Bull if Perez don’t shape up next year.

    1. @balue, I’m not hopeful of a repromotion.

      1. I agree. I doubt Pierre will ever get to Red Bull while Max is there.

    2. Can’t really happen again.

      1. Would at least be a first, so far they trusted in putting drivers back to toro rosso after firing them, but not to the main team, even cause toro rosso is a training ground, while in red bull you need to perform.

  7. Given the straight-line speed of the McLaren, and his pace at the Red Bull Ring, I predict that Lando Norris will finish on the podium on merit in Spa-Francorchamps.

    1. @f1frog I doubt unless rain or other extraordinary circumstances appear.

      1. The McLaren has been really quick where aero efficiency is king like Spa, and same with top speed. So I expect them to do well, and Norris has been outperforming Bottas and Perez, so unless they lift their acts I think he could have a decent chance of a podium on merit, I wouldn’t write him off just yet, heck I think if there were extraordinary circumstances, depending on how they affect Max and Lewis, he could be on for a win but that might be wishful thinking. I do think though, McLarens best chance will be at Monza so we’ll have to wait and see for that.

        Reply moderated
        1. Also, I forgot to add, but Bottas has the 5-place grid penalty and Perez and Verstappen might also get penalties for the engines.

          Reply moderated
    2. I’m expecting Lando’s results to drop off in the second half of the season. Not so much because of him, but because drivers who were struggling to adapt to their new cars will put up a better fight and start to finish ahead of him more often.

    3. This is certainly possible with bottas starting quite far back.

  8. Normally I don’t think Red Bull will take engine penalties this weekend, they need a morale boost of Max up there fighting for the win.
    But what about if there is a good chance for rain? The likelihood of safety cars in that case could well make it a no-brainer!

    1. As a Belgian I can tell you that it feels like there is a high chance of rain on any given day this summer!
      Tired of it this year…

      1. Ahah, interesting, a wet race at spa is usually great.

  9. Raidillon is epic and tested drivers for decades. Slow down if it worries you Callum.
    There is a tenancy to overreacting when there’s been incidents ending with further dumbing down of the greatest challenges in F1.

  10. …much speculation surrounds who Mercedes will announce as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate for next year. But with team principal Toto Wolff indicating that will be revealed in September…

    September is a week away. I hope both George and Valtteri have been informed as to which of them gets the seat, and the result will be made public soon.

  11. This Mercedes team is really not ballsy at all. Up to Wednesday on the week before the beginning of this season’s second half and even then they didn’t decide yet between Bottas and Russell? Unbelievable. This is a slam dunk decision should they have enough good reason and less pity.

    Reply moderated
    1. Well, bottas hasn’t been that bad when you accept he’s a tier 2 driver, and would never be able to compete with a hamilton, verstappen, leclerc etc. in the same car, so having said that he’s beating perez this year, not just because of the points, but also correcting for bad luck. So mercedes faces a stability vs performance decision, and going for the latter can bite you as well, example alonso-hamilton in 2007, it wasn’t a problem with hamilton-rosberg because of the car dominance, as well as senna-prost, it could’ve given mercedes issues if rosberg hadn’t left in 2017, cause with a competitive ferrari maybe vettel could’ve won the title taking advantage of the battle between the faster mercedes.

      1. @esploratore1
        Interesting one. Which one bites more? Stable mediocrity or unstable expertise? I think the same case you cited might produce a good example. McLaren’s car didn’t lose that much of performance from 2007 to 2008 season, right? But in 2007 they’d have scored 208 points in the WDC had they not been excluded from the championship. As for 2008, McLaren scored only 151 points in the WDC and lost the trophy to Ferrari. Which was the main factor of this difference? Wasn’t that mostly because a relatively weak second driver who scored way fewer points? Counting with a driver of the same caliber of Alonso, wouldn’t McLaren have challenged Ferrari for the title more intensively on that year?
        This season Bottas had more absolute lows than Perez, who’s new to the team, so not a good picture for him overall. He had a big strike of bad luck in Monaco but the rest was self-inflicted trouble with awful pace and inept racecraft. But his qualis were decent, that’s what has been saving him from utterly falling in disgrace. He might have been marginally better than Perez if you don’t consider this context, but even then it’s still debatable, as misfortune hit some other drivers and helped Bottas finish in a flattering 2nd place in the Austria II race, for instance. Luck for Perez also hadn’t been perfect (like PL start in Bahrain), even if he had more of it, so correcting by those factors they seem pretty much matched on their current fragile displays when comparing to teammates, below expectatives just yet.

        Reply moderated
        1. *in 2007 they’d have scored 208 points in the WCC
          *for 2008, McLaren scored only 151 points in the WCC

          Reply moderated

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