Sergio Perez in Red Bull talks in blow to Pierre Gasly as Verstappen rumours put to bed

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The contract situation in Milton Keynes appears to have become a little clearer after Sergio Perez revealed talks are underway regarding an extension. The Mexican’s agreement with Red Bull is due to expire at the end of this season, with the manufacturer said to be considering its options for Max Verstappen’s partner next year.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly briefly drove for Red Bull in 2019 and is rumoured to be one of those in contention for the role should Perez move on. Alpine veteran Fernando Alonso is another reported as a potential candidate for the position.

However, Perez may have moved closer to locking down the role after an impressive start to the 2022 season. ‘Checo’ retired alongside Verstappen at the season-opener in Bahrain but has since come back to enjoy a string of enthralling displays.

That includes finishing second in both the Australian and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix, as well as managing fourth-place results in Jeddah and Miami. He sits third in the drivers’ standings behind leader Charles Leclerc and second-place Verstappen.

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Following a fourth straight top-four finish in Florida, Perez was quoted by Motorsport.com (translated from Spanish) as saying: “We started talking, but we’re not in a hurry to do anything soon.”

The 32-year-old joined Red Bull for the 2021 campaign and finished fourth overall, a run that included victory in Azerbaijan. He might also have climbed as high as third above Valtteri Bottas were it not for back-to-back retirements in the final two races of the season.

Gasly, 26, was formerly a member of Red Bull’s junior development programme and made his Formula 1 debut with sister outfit Toro Rosso. He joined AlphaTauri in time for the 2020 season and recorded his maiden F1 victory at that year’s Italian Grand Prix.

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It would be a drastically different direction for Red Bull if they were to pursue a move for two-time world champion Alonso, 40. However, team principal Christian Horner recently dismissed the rumours as just that.

“It’s news to me,” he told Sky F1. “We’re very happy with the drivers that we’ve got. Fernando is a great driver, it’s fantastic that he’s still in Formula 1 given [he’s in] the plus forties, it’s something to aspire to. But he doesn’t fit as part of our plans.”

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