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Sergio Perez stays at Red Bull in F1 with contract extension to 2026

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MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Sergio Perez is staying with Red Bull after signing a two-year contract extension with the Formula 1 team through 2026.

The Mexican driver’s contract had been due to expire at the end of this season. There was speculation he might be replaced after difficulty matching the pace of his teammate and defending champion Max Verstappen.

The 34-year-old Perez, nicknamed “Checo”, has not won a race since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April 2023, even as Verstappen sealed last year’s title with a record 19 wins. However, Perez has won praise for his defensive driving to keep rivals off Verstappen’s back, especially when he held up Lewis Hamilton before Verstappen took his first title in Abu Dhabi in 2021. Verstappen leads the standings this season with 169 points ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with 138. Perez is fifth with 107.

“I want to thank everyone for all the trust they are putting in me, it is a lot and I want to pay it back with excellent results on track, and off track,” Perez said in a team statement. “I think we have a lot of work to do, we have a lot more Championships to win together.”

With seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes for Ferrari next year, Red Bull could be the only one of F1’s three biggest teams to keep the same lineup for 2025.

The two-year extension also means Perez will drive under the new rules being introduced in 2026, when cars will be more reliant on the electric component of their hybrid systems.

“Now is an important time to confirm our lineup for 2025 and we are very pleased to continue working together with Checo. Continuity and stability are important for the team and both Checo and Max are a successful and robust partnership,” team principal Christian Horner said.

Perez has been with Red Bull since 2021 and has won five races with the team, and one more with Racing Point in 2020.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

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