That is the question that those F1 fans are doing who are aware of what happens with the Guadalajara-born driver. The question is complex, the answer is not easy. Let us start from the fact that Alex Albon, despite two very bad performances at the two Grand Prix where he had been given an ultimatum (Portimao and Imola), still has the “support” from Helmut Marko and Christian Horner.
Dr. Marko said immediately after the Imola GP that the Thai now has until Abu Dhabi to prove his worth, and this is where nothing fits into the equation anymore. The overall leader and promoter of Red Bull's young driver program is ultimately stretching time a little bit more. For what? Now we are going to break it down.
Last year Gasly did not got the Dr’s benevolence who after 12 Grands Prix decided to send him back to Toro Rosso, today Alpha Tauri. On his side, Albon has only one podium in 22 Grands Prix, only a third place, against two podiums including a victory by Gasly in Toro Rosso-Alpha Tauri, and even so, it is more than clear that they do not want him back at Red Bull. With these numbers, the pressure to keep Albon or at least not to take him out from Red Bull, is clearly much greater than the desire to ascend Gasly who has proven that he learned his lesson. Worst for Gasly that, also based on statements by Dr., a second chance is non take for the Frenchman at Red Bull.
Another situation for Red Bull to keep Albon continuity in the team on hold is undoubtedly that the Thai Yoovidhya family owns 51% of Red Bull's global shares. Chaleo Yoovidhya teamed up with Dieter Mateschitz in 1984 to create the company and today Chaleo's offspring continue to weigh heavily on Red Bull's decisions, including sporting ones. Chaleo died in 2012 and his son Chalerm was the heir to his fortune valued at more than $20.2 billion dollars.
Is this time stretch perhaps a way to making us see that there are reasons why Sergio Perez arrival at Red Bull no longer depends on sports issues, but perhaps commercial issues? What do we mean? It is a fact that Albon will not be fired from the team with only 4 Grands Prix on the calendar, and that he has not won his seat for the 2021 season for any sporting reason. Therefore, there is no rush to announce by Red Bull his highly likely exit from the team.
The team will have Honda in 2021 as its engine supplier, but it will be the last year before the Japanese brand pulls out of F1. Red Bull will not use Renault engines due to the bad relationship it has with them due to the quarrels they had before cutting the commercial threads that linked them from 2007 to 2018. Mercedes Benz will not give them their winning engines because they already supply 4 teams in F1, and because they are direct competition, although that is not said. Ferrari engines for now make the Commendatore cry in his grave.
With this outlook, Horner and company seek to develop current Honda engines to be competitive as of the 2022 season. By 2021, they need economical resources due to the COVID pandemic that has affected the whole world. F1 lost more than 100 million dollars in just the third quarter of 2020. In addition, sponsors such as Aston Martin will leave, logically going to Lawrence Stroll's team.
Here comes another probable complication about the possible arrival of Sergio Perez to Red Bull. AT&T is one of the main sponsors of the Austrian-English team, and they have created an alliance that comes from 2012. In addition, the North American company has in Milton Keynes, headquarters of the team, a huge operations center from where engineers connect to be communicated with those who are on the track where the Grand Prix takes place. It was a high investment that was made for it.
As everyone knows, Sergio Pérez sponsorship package is led by some of the America Movil subsidiaries, owned by Ing. Carlos Slim Helu, among which Telmex, Telcel, Claro and Infinitum stand out. It is an obvious clash of interests in the telecommunications sector that affects a possible relationship between Red Bull and Checo sponsors. The issue is no longer sports, because there is no doubt that Sergio is by far the best option available in the driver market, and I am not writing it, a certain Fernando Alonso has mentioned it.
Can you break AT&T-Red Bull deal so Checo and his sponsors can join the team? Of course, everything in F1 can be done, but it costs a lot of money. A relationship like that the telecommunications company and the team that has been in place for more than 8 years is difficult to break. This is the game: you have to pay compensation for breaking contracts and that is money that will have to come out of Slim Helu pocket - something that looks complicated because Slim Helu is not one of the richest men in the world because he waste his money- or directly from Perez. In addition, it is mentioned that the cost of the sponsorship that Sergio has brought to Racing Point in recent years is approximately 16 million dollars, which is very attractive for Red Bull due to the money that was lost due to the departure of Aston Martin, in addition to the economic recess that is experienced by the pandemic. The Austrian-English team may well be asking for more money annually for Sergio to be in that second seat.
And to all this, where do I leave the other candidate that has been mentioned for that second seat? Nico Hulkenberg could come with resources and without having to break contracts with other current sponsors, and sportingly speaking, he is also a strong candidate. He is also a candidate who has been mentioned by Christian Horner and Dr. Marko. However, his sponsorship package is not as strong as Sergio one.
As described, the possible relationship between Sergio and Red Bull goes beyond the sporting issue and involves a lot of money to make it come true.