Positioning

Sergio Pérez contract: What Red Bull extension means for Pierre Gasly – Asbury Park Press

future-dyanmics

Plenty of people on the Formula One paddock are happy to see Sergio Pérez sign a new contract extension with Red Bull through the 2024 season.
However, fellow Red Bull racer Pierre Gasly isn’t likely jumping with joy. 
Gasly currently races for Red Bull’s sister F1 team AlphaTauri.  Although it competes alongside Red Bull, AlphaTauri is effectively the second-tier squad. In recent years, Red Bull has used the team, formerly branded as Toro Rosso, to give the drivers in the organization’s development program genuine F1 experience.
In the wake of Pérez’s new deal, which was announced shortly after the Mexican driver’s victory at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, Gasly finds himself in purgatory within the Red Bull organization.
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Gasly, 26,  made his debut for Toro Rosso in 2017 before joining the outfit as a permanent driver in 2018. Gasly was promoted to drive alongside current world champion Max Verstappen for Red Bull in 2019, but the French driver quickly saw his career trajectory take a nosedive.
Gasly failed to perform with the big team and was even lapped in several races by Verstappen, who was operating with equal machinery to his teammate. This provoked Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to make a rare mid-season driver swap — promoting rookie Alex Albon and sending the 23-year-old Gasly back to Toro Rosso.
Free of the pressure of fighting for a Red Bull championship against rival Mercedes, Gasly climbed back into his Toro Rosso car and performed well — even earning his first career podium finish at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. He won his first and only race in a thriller at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.  
Gasly has continued to perform well with the team, now called AlphaTauri, frequently notching top-10 finishes despite driving a lackluster car compared to the likes of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and others.
Red Bull inked Pérez to drive alongside Verstappen in 2021, a season that saw the Mexican struggle to acclimate to a car Verstappen ultimately drove to a world championship.
Pérez, however, currently sits third in the 2022 championship standings after his third career F1 victory on the streets of Monte Carlo Sunday. 
Pérez, 32, is one of the most well-liked drivers in F1 and provides a stable veteran presence paired with the 24-year-old Verstappen. A journeyman driver before landing with Red Bull, Pérez showed a willingness to always execute Red Bull’s race strategy, even if it prioritizes his championship-leading teammate over himself. The dynamic is reminiscent of ex-Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who partnered with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton from 2017-21.
Pérez, though, has positioned himself firmly in the 2022 championship fight after his Monaco win. It will be interesting to see how Red Bull navigates having two drivers in the race moving forward this season.
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It is difficult to see Gasly remaining within the Red Bull hierarchy much longer. He was given a chance with the big team, failed to deliver and had the opportunity revoked. And it doesn’t seem like he’ll be getting another one anytime soon.
At the same time, Gasly may be too advanced a driver to stay with AlphaTauri long-term. It also can’t be easy knowing your sister team continues to choose other candidates over you. Gasly is under contract through 2023.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see him move elsewhere on the grid. Perhaps a move to McLaren to drive alongside Lando Norris, should the team decide to part ways with the struggling Daniel Ricciardo. McLaren would put Gasly in a top-five car for the first time since Red Bull demoted him in 2019.
Haas, a team on the rebuild, could also be an option if they move away from either Kevin Magnussen or Mick Schumacher. Williams could possibly have a spot or two open. Alpine, the lone French team on the grid, would likely love the prospect of adding a homegrown driver should the team and veteran Fernando Alonso go their separate ways.
Or possibly, Gasly moves to Mercedes to replace a retiring Hamilton.
Despite Gasly’s proficient results with AlphaTauri, Red Bull likely also wants to move on from the Frenchman before too long to provide experience for the organization’s young talent. Red Bull will need to get some of its top junior drivers — Liam Lawson, Jehan Daruvala, Jüri Vips, Dennis Hauger, Ayumu Iwasa and Jak Crawford, among others — up to the F1 level. 
If Red Bull doesn’t see a future with Gasly, it may be in the best interest of both sides to part ways sooner rather than later.

source

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