Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull Racing, has openly acknowledged the critical importance of maintaining harmony and competitiveness within the team as Formula 1’s fierce competition intensifies.
As Red Bull’s Max Verstappen secures his third consecutive world championship title with a dominant win at the Qatar Grand Prix, Sergio Perez’s struggles become increasingly evident, prompting concerns within the team.
In the recent Qatar Grand Prix, Max Verstappen showcased his prowess once again, clinching his 14th victory in 17 races this season.
However, his teammate, Sergio Perez, had a challenging weekend, finishing a distant 10th, over 80 seconds behind Verstappen, and incurring three five-second time penalties.
Describing Perez’s performance as “horrible,” Horner pointed out that the Mexican driver now trails Verstappen by a substantial 208 points in the championship standings.
He remarked, “I think with a car like we have, he’s probably putting that pressure on himself.”
Horner emphasised the team’s primary goal of securing both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, a feat they have already achieved this season.
Horner went on to express the desire to see both Red Bull drivers finishing at the top, as is the case with rival teams like Mercedes, McLaren, and Ferrari.
He noted, “You can see Mercedes have a pair, McLaren have a pair, Ferrari have a pair that are quite tight between the respective drivers.”
While Red Bull enjoyed a similar situation earlier in the season, it has become more variable as the year progressed.
The team principal stressed the urgency of getting Sergio Perez back to his best form, acknowledging the tightening competition from other teams.
Perez is contracted with Red Bull until 2024, and Horner emphasised that his performance must improve to ensure Red Bull maintains its competitive edge.
Horner remarked, “The frustration is that we know what Checo has been capable of doing.”
He also acknowledged Perez’s significant contributions to the constructors’ championship in the past two seasons and the team’s reliance on his performance.
Horner concluded by highlighting the potential consequences of a significant performance gap between Red Bull’s drivers, especially as Formula 1’s grid is expected to become even more closely contested in the coming year.
He stated, “We can’t afford to have a big split because if, as you would expect, the grid continues to concertina next year, we need both drivers delivering at the top of the game.”