Christian Horner on team orders amid Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez fight

Sergio Perez's win on Sunday was his second at the Baku City Circuit in the last three years.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has officially confirmed that team orders won’t be used to interfere with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, whom the Briton has revealed are “free to race”.

The Austrians claimed their third 1-2 of the 2023 F1 season on Sunday at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Perez having claimed his second win of the season at the Baku City Circuit.

Verstappen had to settle for second after losing the lead of the race following a costly Safety Car, which he pitted moments before.

It meant Perez inherited the race lead after making his stop during the Safety Car period, something which saw him lose less time.

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Despite this, Perez once again looked strong in Baku, with his win on Sunday having been his second in the former Soviet state.

His win cut Verstappen’s championship lead to just six points ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix; however, Horner has noted that “there’s a huge amount of racing” remaining.

“At moment it’s the two of them,” said Horner.

“There’s a slight gap between the rest of the field, but there’s 19 more races to go – and five sprint races.

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“There’s a huge amount of racing and a whole variance of different circuits to go through, so it could ebb and flow between the two of them.

“Reliability will be a key factor and what we’re more focused on as well at the moment is building a buffer with both of the drivers because when we get back to Europe, I’m sure there’s going to be sizeable upgrades.

“We have a reduced capacity to develop this year, so that’s where our focus is – trying to build a gap.”

Regardless of reliability of any future issues, Perez is free to race Verstappen for the crown, with Horner noting that team orders will not be used unless it’s in the “team’s interest”.

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“There’s six points between them after four races so yeah, they’re both competitive drivers,” added Horner.

“They both want to win, which is why they’re employed by the team. And I think that it’s down to what they do on the track. They were free to race today and, all year so far, they’ve been free.

“[They are free] until the team’s interests – if you’re competing against a competitor – becomes bigger than the drivers’ interests. But, as it is at the moment, they’re free to race.”