Christian Horner says Red Bull are happy that they have both of their drivers in the mix in 2022, after Sergio Perez took the team’s latest victory, at the Monaco GP.
Perez was consistently quicker than reigning champion Max Verstappen in Monaco, as the Dutchman struggled to unleash his infamous raw speed on the historic and twisty streets. The Mexican was therefore the one in position to overcome both Ferraris through a mix of strategy and capitalising on Ferrari’s self-confessed mistakes.
However, Red Bull and Perez’s handling of the race drew scrutiny from Max’s dad, Jos, who himself is a former Formula 1 driver for the team under the Stewart Grand Prix name. Verstappen Sr suggested that Red Bull didn’t do enough in the Monaco race to assist his son on his way to bidding for the championship.
Red Bull team principal Horner rebuffed the claims and insists that the team are revelling in the prospect of having both of their drivers in front-running positions. He believes this is down to Perez being in the prime of his Formula 1 career – a career which stretches back to 2011 with teams such as Sauber, McLaren and Force India – and does not believe that the Monaco win was a one-off.
“Checo is in the form of his career, he’s doing a great job and it’s not a one-off,” said Horner. “I mean, we saw his pole position in Jeddah. And he’s really hitting a rich vein of form, so that’s fantastic for us. But we need both drivers working the way they are together because Ferrari had the quicker car, certainly in qualifying, whether it was in the races is unknown, but they are massive opponents and we got to work collectively to make sure that we get both drivers ahead of them.”
Verstappen and Perez both enjoy the same chances and choices, according to Horner, and do not currently benefit from any form of favouritism. This is something made notorious by Red Bull’s ‘number two’ drivers, with the likes of Mark Webber, Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and even Daniel Ricciardo having been seen by onlookers as experiencing struggles to match their arguably faster teammates at the team.
“I mean, of course, the constructor’s is enormously important,” Horner replied when asked whether it matters which driver wins out. “But you know, whether it’s Max or Checo, they’re both Red Bull drivers and they’ve both got the same chance. Of course, it’s a long, long season and it will have its ebbs and flows, but it’s great to have both drivers right at the sharp end.”
In Monaco, it looked to be Verstappen as the one letting the pace side down somewhat, with an eventual podium finish the best he could have hoped for – admittedly achieved satisfactorily – but certainly not at the very sharp end in which Horner would have hoped for. Leclerc appeared to be the fastest driver of the top two teams throughout Friday and Saturday, but it was Perez who was in the position in the end on Sunday to capitalise.
“I think Sergio just managed to find a set-up that he was happy with,” Horner explained when asked what had fallen into place for Perez which hadn’t for Verstappen. “I think Max has been playing around with the set-up between [practice and qualifying] and he was totally happy with the front end of the car, which obviously is very important around here, and I think Sergio just found a more comfortable window.”
Here’s Max Verstappen on having chance to win Monaco
Here’s Sergio Perez signing with Red Bull
Here’s Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz on their Monaco fight