Jul.11 (GMM) Two former Formula 1 stars have named the driver they think should urgently replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull.

Despite his recently-extended contract, the Mexican’s place alongside Max Verstappen is still in doubt due to performance clauses, given the extent of his current slump.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown even senses an opportunity to beat Red Bull to the constructors’ world championship.

“Sergio is not performing well,” he said, “and that gives us an opportunity.”

Former Haas boss Gunther Steiner agrees the risk is very real for Red Bull.

“Now McLaren have a good car, two good drivers, and at Red Bull they have to be careful who comes behind them now,” he told French broadcaster Canal Plus.

“Red Bull has never been afraid to make these kinds of decisions. Clearly, he (Perez) doesn’t deserve his place.”

However, former F1 driver Christijan Albers thinks that amid the power struggle and turmoil at Red Bull this year, re-signing Perez was a “panic action” designed purely “to please (Max) Verstappen”.

“But the competition is closer now,” he told De Telegraaf, “so those five or six tenths (per lap) hurt. He is now even outside the top ten.”

Another ex-driver, Giedo van der Garde, believes the turning point in Perez’s fate could be the moment Verstappen publicly declares that he needs a better teammate.

“He’ll say: he (Perez) is not doing well, and it’s important that we become constructors’ champions, so put someone else in’,” the Dutchman told DRS De Race Show podcast.

Daniel Ricciardo has been named as one potential replacement for Perez, but he has struggled to even keep up with his RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda this year – who does not appear to be a major candidate for a Red Bull Racing promotion.

“There is actually only one simple choice,” van der Garde said. “Not Ricciardo, because he still performs worse than Tsunoda. Ricciardo should finish his year and then do something else.

“I say, just put Liam Lawson in. He is a rookie, and he can still learn a lot from Max. Nobody expects much from him, because he is still a rookie,” he added.

“Max gets along fine with Lawson, and he’s no threat to Max either. So why wouldn’t you put him in?”

Albers agrees: “Just throw Lawson in there. What do they have to lose? They are already outside the top ten with Perez anyway,” the former Minardi driver added.