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Formula 1 Monaco GP

Perez closing on Red Bull F1 contract extension despite Monaco struggles

Sergio Perez is closing in on a contract extension with Red Bull despite another troubled Formula 1 weekend at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The Mexican driver struggled for pace through the Monte Carlo event, qualifying down in 18th before moving up two places thanks to the exclusion of the Haas cars.

But his race ended on lap one with a high-speed accident after he clashed with Kevin Magnussen and was pitched at full speed into the barriers on the climb up from Ste Devote.

The failure to score points in Monaco, off the back of a troubled run to eighth at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, had prompted some to question whether or not Red Bull should look elsewhere for a team-mate to Max Verstappen next year.

However, sources with good knowledge of the situation insist that the squad believes that Perez is the best candidate available right now that can work alongside the world champion.

With Red Bull not believed to be considering promoting Yuki Tsunoda from RB, and with it understood to have told Carlos Sainz that he is not a candidate, all the indications are that the team is set on keeping Perez on board.

Although there are times when he is unable to match Verstappen’s pace, he does make an important contribution on those weekends when he can extract his best from the car. Equally he does not cause political issues within the squad and he ensures a comfortable working environment for his team-mate.

Reflecting on another difficult weekend for Perez in Monaco, Horner said the priority was about helping the Mexican improve.

“This weekend's been pretty brutal for him,” he said.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“Obviously we need to make sure that we have got both cars up there scoring points, because we cannot dismiss the threat of Ferrari and McLaren in both championships.

“[But] Checo's first six races, he was very strong, qualifying on the front row and finishing second and third and scoring very well. We just need to get back into that position of confidence and not to see a dip.”

Asked if Perez’s recent difficulties changed the timing of a decision for next year, Horner said: “Not really. I think that it's more our timing. [We] will make a decision in the fullness of time.”

While it is unclear when Red Bull could announce a new deal, its motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has suggested having everything in place internally by the Spanish GP.

“I think by Barcelona we should have a clear picture,” he told Motorsport.com. “I would say we should have a clear idea ourselves by then.”

Asked directly if Perez was in pole position for the seat, Marko said: “He is in a good position. I wouldn’t say pole-position, but he is in a good position.”

Confirmation about Perez’s future would have implications on the wider driver market, as it would make clear to Sainz that there was no point him holding out any longer for a potential seat at Red Bull.

That would leave him to decide between the clear two options he has on the table: a drive at Sauber that would carry through into the Audi era, or a switch to Williams.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The choice between those two squads is not an easy one to make, as they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

In short-term competitiveness, Williams appears to be a better bet – and could also offer Sainz some flexibility if he wanted to keep himself on the market for 2026.

However, a Sauber deal would bring with it the kudos of driving for a works team and the potential to benefit from the huge investment that Audi is bringing to its F1 project.

Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov and Ronald Vording

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