Christian Horner admits comparing Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon to Sergio Perez is ‘unfair’

Sergio Pérez has claimed three victories since moving to Red Bull at the start of 2021, with him being contracted until the end of 2024.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that Sergio Pérez’s “experience” was a “key” aspect as to why he was signed to join the Austrians in 2021, with the boss admitting that it was a “bit unfair” to promote Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly “so soon”.

Pérez has performed very consistently since joining Red Bull in 2021, with the Mexican having been a consistent top-five finisher, unlike Albon and Gasly.

Albon and Gasly were both very quick at times, but largely struggled to perform to a consistent standard, something which ultimately resulted in both being dropped by the Milton Keynes-based team.

Pérez has lasted longer than both of the former Red Bull drivers, with Horner believing that Checo’s experience means he’d already dealt with some “hard knocks” before having the pressure of being a Red Bull driver.

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“The key thing in the appointment of Checo was his experience,” said Horner.

“It’s a bit unfair perhaps on the previous two guys to bring them in so soon. I think Checo with that experience, he’s been through some of the hard knocks and so on with his career until that point.

“What he’s brought to us is he’s a very rounded guy, he’s a great team player, he’s got a good outlook on the development of the car and he’s very easy to work with. So that’s all the reasons for taking him in the first place and he’s delivering on that.”

Pérez started the season well last weekend in Bahrain by claiming second place; however, he never looked likely to challenge team-mate Max Verstappen.

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The 33-year-old has claimed three wins since joining Red Bull yet still receives criticism, largely as a result of Verstappen being unstoppable.

Horner does recognise that it’s “tough” for Pérez to have Verstappen alongside him but that he’s “mature enough” to deal with having the Dutchman has his team-mate, with Checo being a “key part” of the team.

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“He won two grands prix last year. He won a grand prix the year before. He was a key part in us winning the constructors’ world championship. And I think it’s tough for him having Max Verstappen as your team mate.

“He is setting the barometer in F1 currently, but Checo is mature enough to be able to deal with it and handle that. He’s looking obviously to continue to evolve and improve his own performance as we’ve just seen in the last session. It’s good to see him looking competitive.

“Of course it’s not just about one race, it’s about 23 of them. And that’s going to be crucial for him. Because it’s not just about Max, it’s about [Ferrari’s] drivers and the Mercedes drivers, and the Aston Martin drivers, potentially. So you can’t dismiss anyone.”