Sergio Perez lays out fresh F1 targets as key Red Bull contract decision looms | F1 | Sport

Sergio Perez has claimed that while he hasn’t been set any goals that he needs to hit in order to secure a new Red Bull contract, he is looking at the first five Grands Prix of the upcoming season as an opportunity to stamp his authority on the seat alongside team-mate Max Verstappen.

The Mexican driver endured a turbulent 2023 campaign after an initially promising start, scoring just one podium in the final eight rounds of the season. His team-mate, meanwhile, scored seven Grand Prix victories during this stint.

When the chequered flag waved at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Perez had finished 290 points behind Verstappen in the standings. Despite seeing off the threat of Lewis Hamilton to retain second place in the Drivers’ Championship, this will have been of little consolation to the 34-year-old.

Asked about his feelings heading into a hectic 2024 driver market, Perez replied: “I think I’m at a great team. For now, I’m fully focused on the start of the year and ideally, I’ll be able to carry on for more years in this team.”

The Mexican also addressed what he needs to do to earn a new Red Bull contract, stating: “The start of the season is going to be really busy. So just focusing on the first few races, that’s my main objective.

“I don’t think I’m setting any timelines or anything like that. For now, I’m just focusing on the first five races to get the most out of it, because it’s going be taking a lot of energy out of me, I just don’t want any distractions.”

There was plenty of speculation throughout 2023 that Perez’s performances could lead to a premature departure in time for the 2024 season, but with his errors drying up and Daniel Ricciardo failing to make an eye-catching claim for the seat, the Mexican was allowed to continue.

However, Ricciardo is expected to be a much bigger factor in the 2024 driver market with the popular Aussie well-set for a short-term return to the team that granted him all but one of his eight Grand Prix victories.

With Lando Norris now tied down to a long-term deal with McLaren, Perez has at least one fewer option to worry about when it comes to retaining his seat, although the performance level of Alex Albon is also likely to put greater pressure on him heading into a make-or-break 2024 campaign.

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