Sergio Pérez has signed an extension to stay with Red Bull through to 2026, the Formula One world champions confirmed on Tuesday.

Red Bull had a group of competitive drivers to pick from, including Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, but have opted for the safety and stability of Pérez for the forseeable future.

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Although initially believed to have been offered a one-plus-one deal, Tuesday’s news explicitly stated a two-year contract for the six-time race winner.

While his form has been erratic, sources have told ESPN that Pérez has always been the favoured option for teammate Max Verstappen.

Perez is well liked by Verstappen and within Red Bull, which has held him in good stead for a new deal in a year which has seen considerable turmoil behind the scenes with Christian Horner’s sexual misconduct investigation and the imminent departure of design chief Adrian Newey.

Red Bull hopes the Pérez extension will also quieten the noise around Verstappen’s future, with doubts still lingering about whether the defending world champion will see out his own contract, which runs until 2028.

Links of a Verstappen move to Mercedes have quietened in recent weeks but the Dutchman has done little to end the talk of a move.

Red Bull felt going in a different direction with Verstappen’s teammate for 2025 risked further destabilising things and reigniting talk of him wanting out.

Away from Red Bull, Perez’s deal will likely speed up an decision on the future of Sainz.

The Ferrari driver has been holding off on committing to a deal with Williams or Audi — who have taken control of Sauber ahead of a full rebrand in 2026 — until the Red Bull option was closed off.

Sources told ESPN over the course of the Monaco Grand Prix that Williams has emerged as the front-runner for Sainz.

Both options are believed to be in play, however, enthusiasm for the Audi project appears to have waned in recent months, many in the paddock are skeptical the German manufacturer can be immediately competitive on arrival.

Audi has already signed Nico Hülkenberg from Haas on a two-year deal but wants a marquee signing for its other seat.

One-time race winner Esteban Ocon will now be a prominent name in the remaining driver market speculation going forward, after Alpine confirmed on Monday he will leave the team at the end of 2024.

RB driver Yuki Tsunoda’s future is also uncertain but will be high on the list for the likes of Alpine and Audi given his red-hot form this year.

Sources have told ESPN Ocon is favoured by Haas, who are unlikely to retain Kevin Magnussen next season.

Haas is widely expected to sign Ferrari junior driver Oliver Bearman to the other seat.