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Perez domino effect EXPLAINED ahead of Red Bull contract conundrum

Perez domino effect EXPLAINED ahead of Red Bull contract conundrum

F1 News

Perez domino effect EXPLAINED ahead of Red Bull contract conundrum

Perez domino effect EXPLAINED ahead of Red Bull contract conundrum

The driver merry-go-round in Formula 1 is always subject to the domino effect and with Red Bull ostensibly having three seats up for grabs underneath Max Verstappen, it's even more of a factor for the reigning constructors' champions than anyone else.

Tune into a Formula 2 race in 2023 and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching the Milton Keynes-based team’s own feeder series instead, given the sheer number of Red Bull livery cars on the grid this year.

It's certain that competition for places in Formula 1 has never been more fierce. Even more alarming for upcoming drivers is that three of the last four F2 champions have failed to secure an F1 seat for the following season.

It pays then, even more handsomely, to be part of a driver academy which has AlphaTauri to rely on as an extra component in its driver development arsenal.

All change in 2025?

While the signings of Sergio Perez and Nyck de Vries were born out of an absence of ready alternatives, the 2025 season will come at a perfect time for Red Bull to pivot back to their traditional approach of bringing through their own talent.

Perez’s contract expires at the end of the 2024 season and while the Mexican has been the perfect wingman for Verstappen throughout his time in Red Bull colours, the higher-ups at Milton Keynes could be keen for a change.

This decision will no doubt be impacted by a host of factors.

Firstly, the relationship between Red Bull poster boy Verstappen and Perez will be a pivotal factor.

The two have already hinted at friction in their working relationship with frustrations stemming from Checo’s spin at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix and coming to a head in Brazil after Verstappen refused team orders at his team-mate’s expense.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix added fuel to the fire of the Verstappen-Perez rivalry

A further deterioration in the relationship would almost certainly work against Checo’s contract renewal hopes with Red Bull keen to avoid a Hamilton vs Rosberg-style rivalry blossoming from the potential dominance they will exert in the coming years.

Another factor that could work against Perez is the performance of Yuki Tsunoda. The young Japanese driver remains far from the finished product, but an impressive start to the 2023 campaign shows that he is maturing into a consistent midfield driver for AlphaTauri.

To add fuel to the fire, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost suggested that Tsunoda will be ready to replace Perez after another two years with the team, stating: “In 2025, I think he will finally be ready for Red Bull”.

Nyck de Vries also poses a conundrum for the Red Bull set-up. His contract is up at the end of the 2023 season and at 28 years of age, the one-time Formula E world champion won’t have long to prove his worth to Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.

This means that AlphaTauri could have two seats vacant by as early as 2025, with plenty of interested parties.

These are the main contenders...

Liam Lawson

Should Red Bull look for an alternative to de Vries after his rookie season, Liam Lawson is perhaps the man best positioned to step into the AlphaTauri for the 2024 season.

The New Zealander has already made multiple FP1 outings for the team, impressing the Red Bull hierarchy in the process and the switch to the Super Formula series looks to be an inspired one.

Lawson converted a P3 qualifying finish into a debut race win at the opening round of the 2023 Super Formula season in Fuji and will be hoping to replicate Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly in taking the path less travelled to the top tier of motorsport.

Ayumu Iwasa

Regular F2 viewers will be hoping to see Ayumu Iwasa follow in the steps of compatriot Tsunoda in making the jump up to AlphaTauri.

The Japanese driver made an immediate name for himself in his rookie F2 season in 2022, gaining a reputation as one of the most entertaining drivers on the grid and certainly one of the fastest.

Many predicted Iwasa to battle Pourchaire for the F2 title this and the 21-year-old is living up to that hype, taking the lead in the championship after three rounds following a feature race victory in Melbourne.

Dennis Hauger

Dennis Hauger takes to the F2 podium in Baku

Dennis Hauger’s rookie F2 season was a good reminder that Oscar Piastri’s feeder series speed run was far from the norm.

The reigning Formula 3 champion entered the season as one of the favourites following a dominant season but naturally took time to adjust, scoring just 14 points across the opening eight races (sprint races included).

However, the Norwegian gained confidence as the season progressed and his early showings in 2023 suggest that he’ll be in the mix at the top during his second season at the level.

With 2025 as the target, Hauger will be in an excellent place for a third-season title charge.

Colton Herta

Helmut Marko’s adoration for Colton Herta is well documented. The 23-year-old would have been driving in F1 this season if it weren’t for super license complexions, but an improved championship finish in IndyCar this year could make Herta eligible.

Herta and F1’s get-together seems inevitable with the Californian expected to be the jewel in the crown of Andretti’s proposed 2026 F1 entry, but Red Bull will be keen to have him in their camp before Andretti can push through their bid.

Consistency cost Herta dearly last season as he finished tenth in the IndyCar standings, but a stronger 2023 campaign for the driver of the No.26 Andretti Autosport car could see him collect the magic 40 super license points needed to kickstart his F1 career.

Zane Maloney

Zane Maloney has experienced a rapid rise up the feeder series ladder

Perhaps the most left-field candidate for an AlphaTauri seat in 2025 would be Zane Maloney.

Dubbed the ‘boy from Barbados’, Maloney was introduced to the Red Bull junior team family following a barnstorming end to the 2022 Formula 3 season that produced three wins in the final five races of the season.

Now in his debut F2 campaign, the 19-year-old has wasted no time making an impression and while his points tally from the opening two rounds didn’t reflect his strong performances, P5 finishes in both the sprint and feature races in Melbourne have marked Maloney out as a contender already.

Maloney has been confirmed for the upcoming Formula E rookie test with Andretti alongside IndyLights champion Linus Lundqvist, but the teenager will be targeting F2 glory in 2024 following a 2023 campaign that will likely serve as a foundation year for the Barbadian.

READ MORE: F1 drivers out of contract: Hamilton heads select group

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