Fresh from the joint-best finish of his Formula 1 career, Sergio Perez remains sat in an unsteady situation. It is becoming clearer that the Mexican racer is unlikely to stay on the grid next season.
Very rarely does a driver who finishes fourth in the world standings find himself ousted the following season. However, this looks set to be Perez’s fate.
Performances mean little when your billionaire father owns the right to your team’s contracts, nor bearing the honour of being a four-time world champion.
There is essentially no room at Racing Point for Perez next season and most of the available seats would either be considered a demotion, or the expectation is the seats are filled by an up-and-coming driver
The only real enticing drive remains the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen. However, that all hinges on the decisions concerning the fate of the struggling Alex Albon.
Albon has been comfortably defeated by Verstappen this season and the chances of him remaining with the team beyond the end of the current season are growing ever slimmer.
In qualifying, Albon is an average of over half-a-second behind his teammate and he has only scored one podium. A stark contrast to the nine next to Verstappen’s name which includes one race win.
There has yet to be any firm decision on whether Albon will be retained for next season. Red Bull is remaining coy on any news relating to their 2021 line-up with Albon not being a victim to the same intolerance experienced by an underachieving Pierre Gasly in the same seat last year.
Perez, who has finished in the top-10 in every 2020 race that he has started, says he is ready to make the move to a top team next season. Should Red Bull not opt to take the gamble on signing Perez, the Mexican added that his plan B would be a year without motorsport at all.
“If I don’t have Formula 1, I don’t see myself doing anything else,” he said.
“I’m clear on what I want to do: Plan A is to carry on and Plan B will be to stop for a year, see how I feel without racing, see if I really miss it, if I really want to come back or if there’s other series that I’m interested in doing or if I’d rather just do something else and stay away from motorsport. I will have a year to think about what I really want to do.
“I have a lot of interests in other stuff away from racing. I [saw] myself later on doing other businesses away from motorsport but not in my 30s – but if that comes early, then I’m happy to consider that option as well.
“I’ve got obviously my family, I want to see my kids growing, and so many other things. So yeah, I can imagine a life without motorsport.”
Some of the sport’s pundits believe it would be an injustice to have Perez miss out on a seat next season.
“Perez put in a great performance, and I’ve said before in this column, it would be a tragedy if he isn’t in F1 next year,” wrote the sport’s managing director Ross Brawn in his latest column.
“He more than deserves his place on the grid.
“If you’re a team that wants a competitive driver to maximise every opportunity, Perez is your man.”
Perez has unquestionably proven to be the class of the field in the fight to the midfield. His points haul would be significantly bigger if were not for strategic errors by the team or untimely red flags at a few races this season.
In fact, if you eliminate the two Silverstone races which Perez missed after testing positive for Covid-19 from the points perspective, the Racing Point driver would only be 26 points behind Max Verstappen and a realistic contender for third in the championship.
Unfortunately for Perez, his future in f1 is not in his hands. Albon has strong financial backing coming from Thailand and Austria.
If his performances also improve over the last three races this season, then there is every reason that Red Bull will favour their man over Perez.
If that happens, then things are looking bleak for a driver that, it could be argued, represents the greatest in Mexican history.