NOVEMBER 13, 2023
Red Bull would be wrong to sack Perez says Massa
Red Bull should not be considering ousting Sergio Perez, according to former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa.
Despite Mexican Perez's signed-and-sealed 2024 contract, and the team's repeated denials that it is considering axing the struggling Mexican, rumours of a potential change over the forthcoming winter period persist.
When told by Bloomberg that Perez's future remains uncertain, team boss Christian Horner insisted: "Only you (journalists) keep questioning it.
I keep repeating that Checo will be our driver next year. He's had a tough six weeks, but he's starting to regain his form, he added.
"He drove a strong race in Sao Paulo and also in Austin, and he sits second in the championship, more than 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton with two races to go.
We will see what he can do in the next two races, but he will be our driver alongside Max in 2024, Horner added.
When asked about the persistent rumours of a change of teammates for Max Verstappen, Brazilian Massa told the Dutch magazine Formule 1 that it would not be a good idea.
As long as Max is happy and the team wins both the drivers' championship and the constructors' championship, I think it would be wise to leave things as they are now, he said.
Max is visibly feeling good and wins almost every race. For him, any change would mean a deterioration, Massa continued.
And he doubts that any other driver could fare much better than Perez anyway.
What Max is showing this season is of an unprecedented level, said the 42-year-old. "Even if you put Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso in the other car, I'm not sure much would change.
Maybe a little bit, but believe me, they wouldn't beat Max either.
Davide Valsecchi, a former GP2 champion who now works for Italian television, agrees that even Alonso would struggle alongside Verstappen.
It would be wonderful if Red Bull signed him, he told Autosprint.
But I'm afraid that we would be disappointed because I don't have the confidence that he would be able to handle a 26-year-old like Max in terms of speed.
As for Massa, he says he at least understands why the Perez speculation has been so lasting and persistent.
Let's be honest - we'd all rather see the championship decided in the last lap, like in 2021 in Abu Dhabi, he said.
If you reason like that, of course you wish for the best driver on the grid after Max to take Perez's seat.