Max Verstappen has suggested he doesn’t mind who races alongside him at Red Bull next year, amid reports Daniel Ricciardo will replace Sergio Perez.
Perez is under enormous pressure due to his underwhelming performances in 2023, having scored a whopping 251 points less than his teammate.
While Verstappen cruised to a third-straight title, the Mexican is fighting to hold onto second in the championship, despite having by far the best car, with just three races remaining.
As such, there are rumours aplenty that Red Bull could look to replace the 33-year-old with Ricciardo, who returned to the grid with their sister-team AlphaTauri earlier this year.
Red Bull maintain that Perez will see out his contract which expires in 2024, but Ricciardo has made no secret of his ambitions to get back to the team he left five years ago, putting in a statement drive last weekend in Mexico.
Verstappen has rarely been queried on the matter, and when asked if he had a preference for a teammate, he remained coy: ‘I find it a bit unfair to sit here and say who I would prefer.
‘If it’s Checo [Perez] next year, we have a good working relationship. If it is Daniel, we’ll have fun. F1 is a tough sport.
As for Ricciardo, the 34-year-old said: I haven’t [had talks with Red Bull]. All the stuff around my contract next year has been related to AlphaTauri. I’d say that’s honestly as far as that goes.
‘For me personally, having a weekend like Mexico is definitely good for the soul and also for the team. I haven’t been here long but for them to be tenth in the constructors’ and to jump two places in the space of two weekends was huge.
‘I think that creates a very happy atmosphere around everyone, so happy doing that and trying to keep charging on where I am.’
F1 Grand Prix of Brazil – Previews
Sergio Perez’s seat is under threat (Photo: Getty)
With the championship wrapped up, it has been suggested that Red Bull may ask Verstappen to help Perez out on track to secure P2 in the standings.
The reigning champions have never had their drivers finish 1-2 in the championship before, but the Dutchman implied that he won’t be on wingman duty at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
‘At the end of the day I think it shouldn’t always be on me to get the points,’ he added.