Who could Red Bull tap to replace Perez in the 2025 F1 season? That’s the million-dollar question for fans and pundits alike. Signing Perez was Red Bull’s latest attempt to find the perfect wingman for their undisputed leader, Max Verstappen. They were searching for someone who could complement Verstappen’s success with enough podium finishes to secure the constructors’ championship.
Red Bull’s junior drivers, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon, had their chances but couldn’t quite rise to the occasion. However, Sergio Perez, with his wealth of experience, managed to hold his own. He secured five of his six career wins in just under three years with Red Bull, and his early 2023 wins reignited his dream of challenging Verstappen for the championship. Unfortunately for Perez, Verstappen responded with a remarkable streak of 10 consecutive wins, making it a tough competition within the team.
Perez’s contract runs until the end of 2024, but recent comments suggest that he might not renew his deal with Red Bull if he doesn’t feel he can contribute effectively. This uncertainty about Perez’s future also raises questions about Red Bull’s plans.
In Italy, team boss Christian Horner stated that “In ’25 we have one seat open, and, as you can imagine, there’s no shortage of interest in that seat.” The 2025 season precedes the significant 2026 regulation changes, introducing all-new cars and power units. This makes the top drivers in the market a hot commodity, as they can strategically choose the team and engine combination they believe will excel in 2026 and beyond.
So, who are the potential candidates?
1. Lando Norris: Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has openly expressed interest in McLaren’s Norris, a talent he almost secured before Norris made his F1 debut with McLaren in 2019. Norris currently has a contract until 2025, but deals can sometimes be negotiated in the final years. McLaren’s 2026 engine supply situation could also play a role in any potential deal.
2. Oscar Piastri: If securing Norris proves too complicated, Red Bull might turn to his teammate, Oscar Piastri. Piastri has had an impressive rookie season and could be a viable option for Red Bull.
3. Daniel Ricciardo: Despite not fitting the “youth and speed” narrative, Ricciardo’s experience and proven ability to deliver consistent results could make him a valuable asset for Red Bull in 2025.
4. Yuki Tsunoda / Liam Lawson: Promoting from within, AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda and Lawson are realistic options already under Red Bull’s contract. Tsunoda has shown promise but must prove himself as a reliable wingman for Verstappen. Lawson, on the other hand, has shown potential and could complicate the driver decision for 2024 if he continues to perform well.
5. Charles Leclerc: Leclerc, tied to Ferrari until the end of 2024, could become available if he believes Ferrari can’t offer him a chance to compete for championships. Several teams, including Aston Martin, might be interested in his services.
The most intriguing scenario is if Red Bull secures their prime target, Norris, for 2026 and beyond but needs to fill a one-year gap in 2025. Will Ricciardo be willing to keep the seat warm for a year, or will Red Bull explore other temporary solutions? Only time will tell, but the 2025 driver market promises to be a thrilling ride for F1 enthusiasts.