Christian Horner says Red Bull will need to have both drivers in play in time to come amid concerned about Sergio Perez’s form.
While Red Bull has sealed both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship for the 2023 F1 season, the only goal that remains is a 1-2 finish in the drivers’ standings where Max Verstappen leads currently from teammate Sergio Perez.
But the Mexican’s form and lack of results is hurting him as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton closes in on to disrupt the party. After the early good run, Perez has just dropped the ball and consistently fighting through to get himself on the podium in most cases.
Horner concedes that he is likely putting pressure on himself which is leading into mistakes. For Red Bull, it is not just about 2023’s 1-2 finish but also the larger picture of 2024 where the likes of McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari can still pounce on them.
They will need both Verstappen and Perez to fire to safeguard their title chances. “I think with a car like we have, he’s probably putting that pressure on himself,” said Horner. “The most important thing for us is winning both championships. We’ve done that. And then, what’s the next best thing after that would be to have both your drivers first and second.
“You can see Mercedes have a pair, McLaren have a pair, Ferrari have a pair that are quite tight between the respective drivers. I think we’ve had that at the earlier point in the year. But as the season has gone on it’s become more variant. We just need to get Checo back to the best form that he’s capable of.
“As I said, the frustration is that we know what Checo has been capable of doing.Of course, last year and this year, he’s contributed significantly to the constructors’ championship. We desperately want him to find that form and as a team; we need him to. We can’t afford to have a big split because if, as you would expect, the grid continues to concertina next year, we need both drivers delivering at the top of the game,” summed up Horner.
To get himself out of the spiral, Perez is working with a coach to ease his mind. The support from Red Bull remains since he already has a contract for 2024. But knowing how the team has been, they can anytime push him out as a drastic measure.
For now, Horner knows the media will anyhow pounce on him and so they are taking it at ease. “The sport at the highest echelon is a mental game as much as a physical game,” he said. “I think Checo has mentioned he’s working with a coach in that area. I think that’s what we need to unlock with him to get him his confidence.
“As I say, we’re going to give all the support for Checo to find his form. You guys [the media] will beat him up enough I’m sure. We really want to see him achieve what we know is capable of,” summed up Horner.
Here’s Sergio Perez, Christian Horner on how Qatar panned out
Here’s FIA and drivers on extreme heat in Qatar GP
Here’s Max Verstappen on wanting to re-watch Qatar GP