2025 Red Bull seat is Perez's to lose - Christian Horner

Sainz: It's time to speed up talks for 2025 seat (0:30)

Carlos Sainz says he hopes to resolve his future in F1 "sooner rather than later." (0:30)

Sergio Perez's rejuvenated form has put him front of the line to be Max Verstappen's teammate again in 2025, Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said.

Poor results in the middle and end of 2023 opened the door to speculation about whether Red Bull would look elsewhere when Perez was out of contract at the end of this season.

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After Carlos Sainz won the Australian Grand Prix, Horner suggested the Spaniard was an option for the team, while the company's junior team has the in-form Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings.

Perez has finished second at three races this year and qualified less than 0.1s behind Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix.

"I think his confidence is high, he's very focused on the job at hand, and he's comfortable in the team," Horner said on Sunday at Suzuka. "And he knows he's out of contract for next year, it's his seat to lose, he's very popular in the team, and he's started the season in the best possible way.

"He just needs to keep doing what he's doing."

The announcement of Lewis Hamilton's 2025 move to Ferrari at the end of January started a wave of speculation about a wild year of driver moves, as did Verstappen's suggestions last month that he could leave Red Bull when the future of Helmut Marko looked uncertain.

Verstappen has since backed down and committed his future to the team through to the end of his 2028 contract, with Mercedes looking likely to promote Italian wonderkid Andrea Kimi Antonelli for 2025. Fernando Alonso has been waiting for Mercedes to make a decision there before deciding his future -- a new contract with Aston Martin appears to be his best option, although sources have told ESPN that Sainz is still in play there too.

As for Perez, his own form has eased the pressure on him, although Ricciardo's underwhelming start to the season at RB has cooled speculation he could be in the frame for a return to Red Bull next year.

Horner said Red Bull will not rush into a decision just because there's a lot of available drivers right now.

"The whole driver market seems to be very early this year," Horner said.

"Everybody seems to be rushing around and we're only four races into the year. We're not in a huge rush and obviously there's a significant amount of interest in our cars, as you would expect, but Checo has the priority and it's going to be a few more races yet before we start to think about next year."