Mar.2 - Sergio Perez's bosses have given his chances of securing a new contract for 2025 an early boost.

The Mexican, under pressure to retain his place at Red Bull next year from suitors including Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, qualified P5 in Bahrain - with his teammate Max Verstappen on pole.

"The Checo Perez drama is back again," concluded well-known Spanish commentator Antonio Lobato, on DAZN.

"He's already far away from Max. It's already raining for Perez. I say this because it's a seat that is in danger. He is one of many drivers whose contracts end this year.

"I already get the feeling that it's going to be difficult for him again. It's going to be a continuation of what we expected - of what happened last year. The unbeatable car is Red Bull, but only with one driver. The others can handle Perez," Lobato added.

Curiously, though, 34-year-old Perez's Red Bull bosses have given him an early pat on the back in 2024.

After practice, Dr Helmut Marko told Servus TV: "He's only two tenths from Max and even closer in the long run. That's good for his standards.

"If he can maintain that, we'll be satisfied."

The qualifying gap blew out to four tenths, but Marko insisted: "We are very pleased with Sergio's fifth place. You can overtake on this track, so I'm looking forward to the race with optimism."

However, Marko admitted that while Verstappen is the clear favourite to win on Saturday, Perez can expect "a tough battle with Mercedes, Ferrari and also Fernando Alonso".

When asked about the four-tenth qualifying gap between Verstappen and Perez, team boss Christian Horner told Viaplay: "That's fine.

"It's a long lap here and the field is very close together - there's only a little more than a tenth between P3 and P7. Checo is in a good position and he can drive a good race from there."


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