Red Bull has denied that it will rush to snap up Sergio Perez after the out-of-work Mexican secured his first Formula 1 race win in Bahrain last Sunday.
Like Nico Hulkenberg, Perez has been linked with the struggling Alex Albon’s race seat for 2021. The team has said consistently that it will make its decision about Max Verstappen’s teammate after Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“Sergio Perez’s victory in Bahrain has no influence on our decision,” Dr Helmut Marko, the boss of Red Bull’s notorious driver program, told f1-insider.com.
“We already knew the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates for the cockpit before that. After the last race in Abu Dhabi we will sit down and make the best possible decision.”
Marko also ruled out speculation that Red Bull might now make a move for George Russell, after the regular Williams driver almost won in Bahrain last Sunday at the wheel of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
“Russell is not an issue for us,” Marko insisted. “He certainly did a great job last Sunday, but quite a few drivers in the Mercedes would have done that too.”
Marko suggested that the biggest problem with Russell is his links to Mercedes.
“Firstly, he is a Mercedes driver, and secondly he is managed by Toto Wolff,” said the Austrian. “In any case, he has told us on the side that he has a ten-year contract with Wolff.
“That is out of the question for us. We have young drivers who also have great talent who we want to develop for ourselves, like Yuki Tsunoda.”
The FIA has listed Russell as a Mercedes driver for Thursday’s official press conference in Abu Dhabi, with Wolff admitting “some question marks” hang over whether Hamilton will be able to return.
“Lewis’s condition is improving, but we won’t know until closer to the time if he will be driving,” Wolff said.
As for the rumours suggesting Mercedes may put Russell next to Hamilton full-time from 2021, the Austrian said: “To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind what that (the Bahrain performance) means for us.”