Red Bull Racing face their own 'Bottas Dilemma' this season

    Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

    Red Bull Racing are facing a dilemma with their driver lineup ahead of the 2025 Formula One season.

    Since Max Verstappen claimed his first title in 2021, Red Bull have been top dogs in Formula One, claiming back-to-back double World Championships, and they look set to make it third time's a charm in 2024.

    During that time, Red Bull has had a stable driver lineup of Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, with them being two of only three drivers across the entire grid to claim Grand Prix victories since the end of the 2022 season.

    With current regulations lasting through the 2025 season, Red Bull could be primed to experience their most successful period in team history, but will they do it with the same lineup after this season is concluded?

    Verstappen is locked into his deal until 2028, and while there have been substantial rumours and reports suggesting a possible split, it still seems unlikely he will depart when he is enjoying so much success.

    However, Pérez finds himself without a contract beyond this season, having signed a two-year extension with the Milton Keynes team back in 2022.

    Pérez's deal expires right at a time when the majority of the grid will also be looking for new contracts, with around 13 seats expected to be up for grabs for 2025.

    With so many alternatives available, it is understandable that Red Bull could consider their options for their 2025 lineup, but it's a decision that will not be made lightly, and one that could be made within a month if Pérez himself is to be believed.

    The dilemma Red Bull are facing will bring back memories of a similar situation faced by Mercedes-AMG in 2021, when the team had to make the choice between offering Valtteri Bottas an extension, or moving on to a new, younger option in the form of George Russell.

    At the time, Mercedes were on top of the Formula One world, having won a then-seven World Championships in a row, with Bottas having contributed to four of them alongside Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was the star, winning all the Drivers' Championships, while Bottas backed him up and provided the team with a strong number two who won races and boosted the team's position in the standings.

    The team were competing for both titles in 2021, and the decision was whether or not they stuck with the reliable and known quantity in Bottas, or the potential that Russell could have if given a chance.

    Red Bull are in a very similar situation, on pace for their third consecutive Constructors' title while Verstappen (the star) is chasing his fourth individual championship, and the team are needing to choose between Pérez (known quantity) or the potential/possibilities that another driver on the grid could offer them.

    It's a difficult one to make, especially with Pérez performing at arguably the best of his career through the opening handful of races this season, finishing second in three out of four races, while his P5 in Australia was down to a damaged floor on his car that prevented him from catching up to the race leaders.

    Last season started much the same, however, and Pérez struggled throughout the year, especially in qualifying, which has raised doubts as to whether or not the veteran driver can maintain these high-level performances consistently throughout a season.

    He has been a part of a winning culture at Red Bull in recent seasons and has played an important role in the team, but the attraction of another driver, who is likely to be younger and could potentially have an impact on the team longer into the future, might be irresistible to the team when it comes time to make a decision.

    Mercedes felt the same, parting ways with Bottas to bring in Russell.

    Carlos Sainz, Alex Albon, Yuki Tsunoda or even Liam Lawson could be some long-term considerations for the team, and if Pérez's performances start to drop as the season progresses, that decision becomes ever more important for the team's future success - at least until the new regulations begin in 2026, which is a significant unknown at this moment.

    Red Bull look set to comfortably claim double championships in 2024, and are already the favourites for 2025, so do they mess with the winning formula? Or do they choose to take a golden opportunity to pick their future lineup almost freely to give them the strongest chance of success longer into the future?

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