May 24 - Sergio Pérez is Red Bull's "first option" to serve as Max Verstappen's teammate in 2025.

Recent rumours suggested the Mexican driver had actually turned down a single-year offer, counter-proposing at least a two year deal including 2026.

"Nothing has been signed yet and it's not the time to think about the contract now, my focus is on this weekend," Perez, 34, said at Monaco.

The good news for Perez is that he's still in the running, despite struggling through a particularly difficult weekend at Imola a week ago.

"Talks are ongoing and Checo is still our first option," Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.

"We want to have clarity on this before the summer break, even if we are certainly not putting any pressure on ourselves."

A theoretical alternative is Yuki Tsunoda, who continues to impress at the junior RB squad. "He is of course also part of the talks," Marko confirmed.

"In general, we have options in his contract to tie him down for several years."

Some believe the real hold-up is because Red Bull is nervous that Verstappen might tire of the team's ongoing internal conflict and join Adrian Newey in prematurely jumping ship.

"It's quite a change," the triple world champion admitted to Bloomberg. "It's really a shame that Adrian is leaving the team.

"But I completely trust the team for the future. The confidence is very high and I look forward to the coming years."

Verstappen has consistently said that his only real requirement is that he sits in the fastest car possible. So does that mean he's suddenly looking at McLaren and Ferrari, who are steadily closing the gap on Red Bull?

"Well, it doesn't work like that," he smiled at Monaco. "I mean, I think we still have a very, very fast car. So I'm happy where I'm at."

Toto Wolff's hope, however, is that Verstappen may be nervous about Honda's looming departure and Red Bull's ability to produce its own engine for 2026.

"There's so much investment going on with the engine side of things," the Dutchman insists. "And I'm happy.

"I mean, I think if you start thinking like that, you could almost change teams every single race. But it's not on my mind."

However, the internal conflict could ramp up again at Red Bull, given that Max's father Jos, and team co-owner Mark Mateschitz, are both expected at Monaco this weekend.

"Let's see how it goes for us here," Marko said at Monaco. "The gap is shrinking and we've had problems in practice and qualifying lately.

"For me, (Ferrari's Charles) Leclerc is one of the main favourites because he was always incredibly fast here and often had bad luck, so he will be extremely motivated to have a say in the victory."

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