Christian Horner makes admission about Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez treatment

Max Verstappen leads Sergio Perez in the standings by 15 points ahead of this weekend's usually eventful Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has stated that both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez receive “the same opportunity”, despite claims that the reigning World Champion receives preferential treatment.

Since Perez joined Red Bull in 2021, the Mexican has arguably been more of a number two driver, with him having needed time to adjust to the environment and pressure of racing for a leading team.

As a result, Verstappen was the team’s dominant driver in 2021 and for the vast majority of 2022, with Perez having been asked on a few occasions to let his team-mate past.

For the good of the team, the Mexican often followed the team’s instruction without complaint; however, the same can’t be said for Verstappen.

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Last season’s Brazilian Grand Prix was a huge turning point in Verstappen’s and Perez’s relationship, after the Dutchman defied the team and ignored orders to let the Mexican past.

Both drivers were having a poor race in Interlagos and were in sixth and seventh on the final lap, with Verstappen having been told to let Perez past if he couldn’t break into the top five.

Verstappen crossed the line in sixth, resulting in Perez and his family being absolutely furious.

The two-time World Champion also stated very clearly that he never wanted to be told to let someone past ever again, very much showing who’s in charge.

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Perez and Verstappen then clashed again in Saudi Arabia earlier this season, after Verstappen set the fastest lap on the final lap.

Perez was under the assumption that himself and Verstappen had been told to set the same lap times, meaning he was shocked and seemingly annoyed to see that the Dutchman had set the fastest lap.

With 15 points separating them, the likelihood is that they will clash again, especially as Perez appears to be the only driver who can challenge Verstappen this campaign.

Despite their recent issues, Horner believes that having both drivers at the front is “great”, whilst the Austrians are also aware that they must be “scrupulously fair”.

“It’s great. Having both at the sharp end is exactly what you want as a team or a team principal,” Horner said on Red Bull’s Talking Bull podcast.

“You just become very conscious about just making sure both have the same opportunity.

“You want it to be about what they do on the track. There’s no number one driver in any contract we have ever had. It’s always been about what they do on the track and that’s the way we want it to be.

“So we are scrupulously fair in the way we treat the drivers in terms of the upgrades, how they are distributed, the parts, the weight of the parts. Even to who drives out the garage first for a qualifying session alternates from weekend to weekend.”

Whilst Horner is enjoying having both of his drivers at the front, ex-F1 driver Timo Glock believes the pair will “fight”, especially after their clash in Saudi Arabia.

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“​​Sergio Perez will not get involved in any topic in which he will have to support Verstappen in the future,” Glock said.

“I’m sure of that because the Mexican sees his chance to fight for the title with Verstappen.

“This will lead to a fight between the two. We can expect that there will be friction. Red Bull is certainly already aware of this.”