Red Bull admit they were thinking about Ricciardo when they told Perez ‘no fighting’

Max Verstappen led home Sergio Perez for a Red Bull one-two in Baku on Sunday.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that he had the 2018 crash between Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in his mind when making the call to tell his drivers not to fight in Baku.

Ricciardo and Verstappen came together at Turn One in Azerbaijan four years ago, putting them both out of the race when they might otherwise have been in contention for a victory had a Safety Car been deployed.

Verstappen was much quicker than Sergio Perez at last weekend’s race having started behind the Mexican so, for the second time in three races, Perez was asked not to fight his team-mate as he made a move for the position.

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That ultimately became the lead of the race when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retired from the lead due to a reliability failure, and they secured a one-two finish.

In the end, bringing the cars home safely was Horner’s only concern and, with Verstappen winning the race by 20 seconds, it might have been a fairly pointless fight to have.

“The pace difference between the two drivers was so significant, we discussed it this morning that if they were racing each other, give each other space and they did that,” he explained after the race.

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“2018 isn’t too far away in the back of our minds, so it was very important that the drivers – at this stage of the championship – are fair with each other because our priority is to maximise our points to Ferrari. 

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“We know we have got a quick car at the moment, we know how quickly things can turn around so as a team, we need to prioritise that.”

The 48-year-old praised Perez’s ability to play the long game in the championship, given that there are still 14 rounds left to go, with two of those also including sprint races.

“Checo is a mature guy, he is a mature guy, he gets the bigger picture and he knows that this is a long, long championship,” explained Horner.

“He is in the form of his career off the back of Monaco. 

“His qualifying performance, with the benefit of hindsight, there was too much weight put on qualifying with his set-up with the rear deg he experienced so that is something to look at because Max was in better shape in the race than Checo was at the back end of the stint.”

Red Bull’s third one-two of the year puts them 80 points clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship after Carlos Sainz also retired from the race.