Christian Horner on Red Bull sacking Sergio Perez if Lewis Hamilton beats him

Sergio Perez is at risk of being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo next season at Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has quashed rumours that Sergio Perez will be sacked at the end of 2023, if he fails to finish second in the Drivers’ Championship.

Perez heads to the United States Grand Prix this weekend under immense pressure, having scored just five points across the past three races.

As a result of his recent shocking form, he sits just 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton with five races remaining, in the fight for second in the Drivers’ Championship.

The 33-year-old who hasn’t won a race since Azerbaijan at the end of April, clearly recognises that he needs to drastically improve his performances, something he has addressed ahead of this weekend.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Horner revealed that Perez spent three days in the simulator last week preparing for the Circuit of the Americas, a feat the team boss admits he’s never “done previously”.

“He was on the simulator for three days last week, which is not something he has ever done previously,” Horner told Mirror Sport.

“Three days in succession to try to help him to get to the root cause of some of the issues he felt he had in Qatar and Japan. I think he made some great progress so, hopefully, that will come to the fore this weekend. He’s going the extra yard, which is so important.”

Should Perez’s efforts not materialise into anything, then it has been rumoured that he could be replaced with Daniel Ricciardo next season, despite the fact the Mexican driver is contracted for 2024.

Article continues below

Horner has stressed ever since rumours of Perez being sacked began that the driver’s deal will be respected, with that having not changed.

“It’s not something that we have discussed or even contemplated,” Horner insisted. “Checo is our driver and we want to support him in the best way that we can.”

Perez is an excellent driver when he’s performing at his best but that just hasn’t been seen often enough this season, despite having the strongest car on the grid at his disposal.

Part of this is because of how daunting it is to be partnered with Max Verstappen, who’s won 14 of the 17 completed races in 2023.

Horner recognises this and is quick to note that Perez’s season hasn’t “all been bad”, whilst the team principal is confident that the experienced driver has what it takes to claim second in the standings.

“We believe that he can achieve that second place in the championship but he is up against tough competitors with a lot of racing still to go,” Horner said.

READ: Lawrence Stroll makes surprising excuse for Lance’s woes

“We selected Checo in the first place because of his experience and his ability to be able to deal with pressure. He did a lot for us in ’21 and ’22, contributing to the constructors’ championship last year and this year with the victories he has achieved.

“We know what he is capable of and we haven’t seen that for the last couple of races. We want to support him to make sure he gets back to that early-season form. It’s a tough season and tough being Max’s team-mate – we mustn’t forget the challenge that is mentally.

“We know what Checo is capable of and we know that qualifying tends to be his weakness, but when racing he comes alive on a Sunday afternoon.

“He’s demonstrated that time and time again. We have six one-two finishes this year, he’s won two Grands Prix and he’s still second in the world championship 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. It’s not all been bad!”