Christian Horner disagrees with Max Verstappen’s comment about Sergio Perez

Max Verstappen did not name his team-mate as one of the drivers capable of challenging him this season.

Although Red Bull ran away with both championships in 2022, this upcoming season promises to be a lot more competitive.

While Red Bull will be battling with their ten percent reduction in testing time as punishment for breaching the 2021 cost cap, Ferrari and Mercedes will likely provide more serious competition for the energy drink giants.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes experienced various issues in the first year following the major regulation changes, leaving the door open for Max Verstappen and Red Bull to cruise to both championships.

At Red Bull’s season launch in New York, Verstappen named the four drivers that he believes can challenge him for the championship, should they be given the car to do so.

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“Of course he is,” he said when asked if Lewis Hamilton is able to challenge him this year.

“He’s been one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport so, for sure, if he has the car to do it then he can fight for the title again.

“That’s the same for George [Russell], for Charles [Leclerc] and for Lando [Norris].”

Surprisingly the Dutchman did not name his teammate Sergio Perez as one of his competitors for 2023, despite him being the only driver in the same machinery as him.

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While Perez has never really been in contention for the title during his time with Red Bull, he has shown flashes of brilliance, dominating street circuit weekends especially.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has admitted his surprise as Verstappen’s comments, suggesting that Perez is more than capable of fighting for the championship.

“Otherwise why is he competing?” Horner Auto Motor und Sport.

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“But you know Checo should also know he has the capability to also be right there. We need both drivers performing at the best of their ability for the constructors’ championship.”

Perez himself has admitted that he perhaps lacks consistency at the moment, with his intermittent race wins not being enough to launch a full title challenge.

Should be become more consistent this year however, the 33-year-old has shown that he thrives at circuits where his teammate struggles, making for an interesting title battle.