Red Bull or bust for Perez in 2021

IMOLA, ITALY (AFP) – Sergio Perez said on Friday that it is Red Bull or nothing in his bid to stay in Formula One next year.

The Mexican driver leaves Racing Point at the end of this season, when he will be replaced by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel as the team is renamed Aston Martin.

He has been hunting a seat for 2021 and was strongly linked with a possible move to Williams before they confirmed they are retaining their current driver pairing of George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 in the paddock ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, he was asked if it was Red Bull or nothing and said, “I definitely see it that way.

“I want to continue in Formula One, but have always said it has to be the right project – the right package and that everything has to click.

“It’s not my first or second year. I’ve done 10 years so, as much as I want to continue, I know it has to be the right package to carry on.”

In an official pre-race video news conference, he added that for him Red Bull remained an option and that he was not concerned by being teammates with Max Verstappen.

Racing Point driver Sergio Perez speaks during a press conference at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack, in Imola, Italy. PHOTO: AP

“It’s a bit of a hot seat, no?” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to be with a top team, that are fighting Mercedes pretty much every single race.

“They’re still a bit far, but if there is a team that has the potential in the short-term to fight Mercedes, it’s definitely Red Bull.”

Red Bull Team Chief Christian Horner has made clear he and his team want to retain London-born Thai driver Alex Albon, but has said also that Albon has to raise his game to keep his seat.

Verstappen has outqualified Albon at every race this season and delivered nine podium finishes to his one.

Perez said he wants an answer soon so that he can make his own plans.

“My only issue is with the timing,” he said. “It’s not on my side and I have to make decisions pretty soon.

“We’re getting pretty close to the end of the year. I’m looking at all my options and I can’t take too long now.”

Perez’s comments suggested that he does not expect to be offered a seat with the American-owned Haas team, which last week announced it was parting company with drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen after this season.