The door for a sensational mid-season switch of drivers at Red Bull hasn’t been completely shut, despite the renewal of Sergio Perez’s contract.

Perez was recently confirmed on a new two-year deal at Red Bull, which seemed to have secured his immediate future – but concerns over his performances in light of a tightening championship battle could yet trigger further changes on the driver front.

Helmut Marko doesn’t rule out Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez switch

With Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko recently reiterating the stance that the VCARB squad’s purpose is primarily to serve as a junior team for Red Bull, he revealed the goal had been for Daniel Ricciardo to be considered for a seat with Red Bull if he produced exceptional performances.

But the team then announced a contract renewal with Sergio Perez, surprisingly early in the season, with Christian Horner telling Sky F1 ahead of the British Grand Prix that the team were hopeful of seeing the Mexican’s form return to what he showed in the first five races in 2024.

Since finishing fourth in Miami, Perez has finished eighth twice, seventh once, and retired twice. While Max Verstappen continues to rack up the points, Red Bull’s lead in the Constructors’ Championship is just 64 points as Silverstone marks the halfway point of the championship.

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Asked whether Red Bull had made an error in signing Perez up again so early, Horner replied: “That’s a brutally hard question.”

“But, of course, the point that you sign a driver, the contents of any agreement are not going to be disclosed to all of you lot.

“So it made absolute sense to sign Checo [Perez] at that point in time. But this is a business in which there are pressures to deliver.”

He revealed Red Bull’s thinking had been a contract renewal would give Perez the confidence to keep his strong start to 2024 going.

“We thought the contract would help,” he said.

“I think it’s something that Checo is working very hard on, and he knows this is a sport where there’s no hiding.

“Particularly with Max Verstappen as your team-mate. He knows he’s being measured against the very best, and we need him up there supporting Max, because there’s two McLarens now, there’s two Ferraris, there’s two Mercedes and we need there to be desperately two Red Bulls.”

Rumours emerged in German publication Auto Motor und Sport on Friday that the possibility of a Ricciardo/Perez swap has been revisited recently, with understanding from its own enquiries that performance clauses on both sides exist to allow for changes to be made if desired.

Sources close to the situation have indicated to that Christian Horner is pleased with Ricciardo’s recent upswing in form, having scored points in two of his last three races – the Australian no longer being outclassed by Yuki Tsunoda, who is already confirmed with VCARB for next season.

The aforementioned performance clauses on both Ricciardo and Perez’s contracts could open the door for a change of seats, particularly if Ricciardo can continue his upward momentum through the Silverstone, Hungaroring, and Spa-Francorchamps races to reach the summer break on a high – putting Horner in the luxurious position of being able to choose whether or not to promote Ricciardo back to the seat he vacated at the end of 2018, or stick it out with Perez.

Speaking to AMuS, Marko didn’t shut down the scenario facing Horner and Red Bull as he said: “We’ll know more by the summer break.”

Daniel Ricciardo promotion could be a bomb on the F1 2025 driver market

If Ricciardo and Perez’s respective forms do indeed trigger a mid-season seat switch, clauses in Perez’s contract would likely then make him a free agent on the driver market for F1 2025 – perhaps a tempting proposition for one of several midfield teams still without a full line-up: these include Williams, Audi, Alpine, and Haas.

A Perez departure from the Red Bull camp would also leave a vacancy at the VCARB squad alongside Tsunoda, with the most obvious candidate for such a scenario being the patient Liam Lawson as the Kiwi plies his trade as reserve for both Red Bull teams.

However, another contender could be Isack Hadjar – he carried out FP1 duties for Red Bull on Friday at Silverstone, as part of the team’s junior drivers obligations for the season, and impressed Marko following the run. The Austrian also indicated discussions on Hadjar’s future will be made during or after the summer break, as he spoke to media following Friday’s track action.

Ricciardo’s promotion back to Red Bull, should it occur, also is no guarantee of him continuing in the seat in F1 2025, leaving the possibility of further changes being made for next season.

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