Racing Point co-owner Lawrence Stroll says he wants to see his Sakhir Grand Prix winning driver Sergio Perez secure the second Red Bull seat for the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Perez has been with Racing Point since 2014, joining when it was still Force India.
But he has been released for the start of its Aston Martin era next year in favour of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, with Stroll’s son Lance staying on in the other car alongside the ex-Ferrari driver.
“He most definitely proves every weekend that he deserves to be in a car next year and I hope he’s in that Red Bull” :: Lawrence Stroll
Perez’s last remaining hope of a 2021 F1 drive is if Red Bull decides to drop Alex Albon to make way for him.
Stroll Sr paid tribute to Perez after he drove through the field from last to take a breakthrough win – the first for the team since its last triumph as Jordan in 2003 – at Sakhir, saying he would “love to see” the Mexican get a 2021 seat.
“Checo has been a fantastic asset, he’s been an asset for this team a long time before I’ve arrived,” Stroll told Sky.
“I think he most definitely proves every weekend that he deserves to be in a car next year and I hope he’s in that Red Bull next year.”
Perez has appeared increasingly relaxed about his prospects in recent weeks, suggesting he is confident he will be back in F1 in 2022 even if Red Bull does not take him for next year.
He admitted he was initially unsure “if I will have the will to come back” if he had a year out, but that his form lately had crystallised his belief that he would be straight back on the pace when he returned.
Prior to his win, Perez finished second in Turkey and was on course for third in the first Bahrain race before a last-gasp engine failure.
“After the last couple of races, I’m sort of determined to be here, either if it’s next year or the year after,” said Perez.
“I already have some good options for ’22 so my best option is obviously to keep going on next year but if I have to stop, then it’s not a disaster, I can come back in ’22.
“He’s one of the top guys out there and he can’t be left outside. It would not be normal” :: Esteban Ocon
“The regulations are going to change so much that, in a way, I don’t think it will hurt that much on the driving side to get up to speed.
“I’m at peace with myself. It’s just the way Formula 1 is, it can be really tough and not the best drivers are in Formula 1 unfortunately.”
Perez was backed by Sakhir GP runner-up Esteban Ocon, who spent last year on the sidelines in a Mercedes reserve role after losing his Racing Point seat to Stroll before returning with Renault for 2020.
“It’s obviously a very tough position to be in. I know well how it feels,” said Ocon.
“I’m glad that Sergio is obviously getting the results to show everybody that he deserves to be in Formula 1.
“He’s one of the top guys out there and he can’t be left outside. It would not be normal.
“But sometimes the sport is like that, unfortunately, and you don’t end up in the best situations.
“I was in good hands. I had a lot of people believing in me and supporting me, which has helped me to come back after a year out – and here we are.
“It was not easy to get going but after a bit of running, you get there.”