MAY 7, 2021
Perez hopes for Red Bull contract extension
Sergio Perez says it's "too early" to consider whether Red Bull will keep him on board for 2022.
The energy drink owned team has struggled to field competitive teammates for Max Verstappen in recent years, with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon both ousted during their consecutive tenures.
It's why Red Bull looked to the experience of 31-year-old Perez for 2021 - even though the Mexican has struggled somewhat to adjust to his new car.
However, he says he took a "big step" at Portimao, explaining that he is slowly learning how to drive "completely differently to get the most out of the car and the tyres".
Perez said he will not ask Red Bull to make car changes simply to suit his preferences.
"There is far too little time to do that in such a busy calendar," he insists. "You would just stray from the right path.
"The way I look at it is if Max can drive the car fast, so can I. I just have to find my way and adapt."
That is music to the ears of his boss, Dr Helmut Marko.
"Finally, a driver who doesn't want to design the car himself," said the Austrian.
"If we talk about Sergio, then he is steadily progressing in both qualifying and in the race," Marko told RTL in Barcelona. "All drivers who change teams need some time, which we can see partly with Carlos Sainz and very clearly with Ricciardo.
"With a little racing luck, he may be able to compete for the podium."
Marko is also quoted by Sport1: "In the last three races it became quite clear that only Hamilton and Verstappen can fight for the championship.
"Perez is still struggling to get used to it but he's getting stronger and stronger. Overall and in terms of consistency, he is simply missing the last two tenths to Max.
"On the other side we see that Bottas is not very strong at the crucial moment and has his weaker days, as we saw in Imola."
When asked if he is still happy to have replaced Albon with Perez, Marko added: "Yes. He has room for improvement and he is doing that improving."
According to Perez, however, it is "too early" to start speculating about whether he will be offered a contract extension for 2022.
"The most important thing is to enjoy the work, and I love the culture of Red Bull," he said. "The philosophy is very different from what I'm used to.
"Let's see what awaits us in the next races and how our relationship develops, but I hope we will continue our cooperation."