Christian Horner in difficult position as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez ‘friction’ re-emerges

Sergio Perez sits just one point behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship after two races.

Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft believes Red Bull have a “few banana skins down the road” for team principal Christian Horner to deal with, as the rivalry between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez continues to build.

With Red Bull appearing to be more dominant this season than they were last year, Pérez is arguably the only driver who can stop Verstappen from claiming a third consecutive world title.

The Mexican was sensational at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and calmly claimed his fifth career win, after quickly overtaking Fernando Alonso in the opening laps.

Checo took the fight to Verstappen and for once came out on top, with the reigning world champion having been unable to catch the Mexican once he worked his way from 15th, to second.

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Verstappen’s anger at having finished second was evident after the race, with the Dutchman having openly admitted to the media that he wasn’t happy with second.

Just a point separates the pair in the championship as a result, with Verstappen narrowly having the edge thanks to setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.

This annoyed Pérez, though, after the Mexican was seemingly told to do slower lap times than Verstappen.

There was clearly tension between the Red Bull duo in the cooldown room, with Croft believing that the current situation is certainly not what Horner wants or needs, at a time when the Austrians are the strongest on the grid.

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 “I am not sure everything is how Christian Horner would like it and how the team would like it for a smooth domination,” Croft said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“They are dominating Formula 1 on the track but they came very close to not having that one-two in Bahrain and had issues [in Saudi Arabia].

“In the cooldown room after the race, there was still friction between the two drivers. Checo was not a happy man at being asked to do target lap times that were slower than his team-mate.”

It’s the first time really that Red Bull have had two drivers amongst the title fight, with one driver typically being used to “help” the other.

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Pérez has held this role since moving to Red Bull in 2021; however, Croft has argued that the Mexican may see no need to help the Dutchman going forward, especially as he approaches the final 18 months on his contract.

“Perez is in the last year of his contract and if there are no signs of another deal coming, what’s in it for Sergio to help his team-mate in the way Red Bull would like? I think there are a few banana skins down the road,” stated Croft.

“As for Max’s dad, all is clearly now well in Jos Verstappen’s mind when his son finishes and leads the world championship, yet he can barely break a smile!”