Former Formula 1 driver Christijan Albers has revealed his surprise that Sergio Perez has been able to retain his Red Bull seat despite the team's ruthless streak.
Perez's contract is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season, though there has been speculation that he will be replaced due to a series of underwhelming drives.
The Mexican has been in the spotlight following two consecutive disappointing performances, having finished in P8 in Singapore and endured a retirement in Japan. Costly penalties across both weekends added further insult to injury.
Albers has expressed his shock at Perez's ability to cling on to his spot, especially considering Nyck de Vries was swiftly replaced earlier this season.
"Even though he can look at Max's data, he is unable to improve and close the gap," Albers said in the Telegraaf podcast.
"The gap is in fact only increasing. At some point they'll see it's impossible to keep justifying this. The story will have to end somewhere.
"If you see how destructive Horner and Marko were towards De Vries, it actually amazes me that they continue to keep Perez."
Despite speculation about Perez's potential replacement within the team, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has expressed his intention to retain him until his contract reaches its conclusion.
However, he has also revealed that the team are open to other options when his contract does finally expire in 2024.
"At Red Bull Racing we want the best two drivers that are available," Horner said. "We've got a long-term contract with Max [Verstappen]. Checo [Perez] is out of contract at the end of '24 and so you want to explore and see all of those options.
"Checo is in the hot seat at the moment and will obviously be keen to extend. We'll see how Daniel does, we'll see how Yuki does and, in the background, we'll see what Liam is capable of in the test and reserve role."
Lewis Hamilton is currently creeping up to Perez in the drivers’ championship, with his second-place position under threat by the British driver.
Perez will remain under scrutiny at this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, especially with his team-mate Verstappen on track to win his third consecutive drivers’ championship at the event.
It remains to be seen whether Perez can enhance his results, or if he might face a fate similar to that of numerous past Red Bull drivers.
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