Formula 1: Sergio Pérez signs Red Bull extension until 2026

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Sergio Pérez has signed an extension to stay with Red Bull until 2026, the Formula 1 world champions confirmed on Tuesday.

Red Bull had a group of competitive drivers to choose from, including Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, but has opted for Pérez’s safety and stability for the foreseeable future.

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Although it was initially believed a one-plus-one deal had been offered, Tuesday’s press release explicitly stated a two-year contract for the six-time race winner.

Although his form has been erratic, sources have told ESPN that Pérez has always been teammate Max Verstappen’s preferred option.

Perez is well liked by Verstappen and within Red Bull, which has put him in good stead for a new deal in a year that has seen significant turmoil behind the scenes due to Christian Horner’s sexual misconduct investigation and the impending departure of design chief Adrian Newey.

Red Bull hopes Pérez’s extension will also quiet the noise surrounding Verstappen’s future, while doubts remain over whether the defending champion will extend his own contract, which runs until 2028.

Links of a move from Verstappen to Mercedes have calmed down in recent weeks, but the Dutchman has done little to put an end to rumors of a move.

Red Bull felt that going in a different direction with Verstappen’s teammate in 2025 risked further destabilizing things and reigniting rumors that he wanted out.

Without Red Bull, Perez’s deal is likely to hasten a decision on Sainz’s future.

The Ferrari driver has waited to strike a deal with Williams or Audi – who have taken control of Sauber ahead of a full rebrand in 2026 – until the Red Bull option was closed.

Sources told ESPN during the course of the Monaco Grand Prix that Williams has emerged as the frontrunner ahead of Sainz.

Both options are believed to have a role to play, but enthusiasm for the Audi project appears to have waned in recent months, with many in the paddock skeptical that the German manufacturer can be immediately competitive upon arrival.

Audi has already signed Nico Hülkenberg from Haas on a two-year contract, but wants a big signing for its other seat.

One-time race winner Esteban Ocon will now be a prominent name in the remaining driver market speculation after Alpine confirmed on Monday that he will leave the team at the end of 2024.

The future of RB driver Yuki Tsunoda is also uncertain, but will be high on the list of the likes of Alpine and Audi given his red-hot form this year.

Sources have told ESPN that Ocon is preferred by Haas, who are unlikely to keep Kevin Magnussen next season.

Haas is widely expected to sign Ferrari junior driver Oliver Bearman to the other seat.