Ex-Formula 1 driver Pedro de la Rosa believes Sergio Perez has done enough to warrant his place at Red Bull and deserves to remain with the World Champions.
Perez was signed by Red Bull for the 2021 season, becoming its first recruit from outside its illustrious driver academy since Mark Webber in 2006.
After a mixed debut season with the Austrian outfit, Perez rebounded to produce a better campaign next time around, scoring two victories to help Red Bull end its nine-year wait for a Constructors’ title.
De La Rosa asserts that Perez, who has a contract through to the end of 2024, has done well to overcome his early problems and adapt to difficult Red Bull machinery.
The Spaniard, now an ambassador for Aston Martin, therefore, doesn’t foresee a departure from Red Bull any time soon for the Mexican.
“I really think that Checo will stay at Red Bull or should stay because he’s been getting stronger and stronger race-by-race since he joined Red Bull,” de la Rosa said on the F1 Nation podcast.
“He’s proved that it’s not easy to adapt to a big team or car, especially with this new Formula 1, and there’s very few drivers that if you throw them into a new car or team, they will just perform and adapt themselves to the car.
“Most of the drivers need the car to adapt to them, and I think Checo is an example of how he really managed to adapt the car to his driving style.
“These new modern cars are really complex, you have no testing and you need to play with what the engineers call ‘the toys’ which is the brake balance, brake migration, engine braking, and differential, so that is pretty complex.
“It’s not only about springs and bars, so now that Checo is performing well, I don’t see Red Bull replacing him.”
Former Ferrari and Williams race engineer Rob Smedley shared de la Rosa’s view that Red Bull has no reason to make a change to its driver line-up, having struggled to find a suitable partner for Max Verstappen since Daniel Ricciardo’s departure at the end of 2018.
Smedley also believes that Red Bull will want to ensure reigning F1 champion Verstappen remains content and Perez’s presence retains a harmonious atmosphere.
“It’s difficult that the senior team are going to make a change,” the Brit added. “Checo is doing a really good job now, and they’ve got good harmony within the team as well.
“Max is performing and they publicly say, ‘there’s no number one, there’s no number two’, but they’re very, very interested in how Max is doing and Max’s welfare and Max is performing and is happy that Checo is getting the points that he needs to get.
“So I think it will be difficult to see a change in the team.”
Having revealed his main ambition for 2023 was to mount a challenge for the Drivers’ Championship, Perez’s win at the second round in Saudi Arabia brought him within one point of Verstappen.
However, a trip into the gravel at Turn 3 in Australia spelt an early end to his qualifying hour while Verstappen secured his second pole position of the season.
Despite recovering to fifth in a chaotic Melbourne race, Verstappen’s victory has left Perez already 15 points behind his Red Bull team-mate heading to Azerbaijan.