‘That’s the first I’ve heard him saying that’: Christian Horner hits back at Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez currently sits 15 points behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers' Championship.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has shut down any suggestions that the Austrians have favoured double World Champion Max Verstappen over any of his team-mates, following a comment made by his current partner Sergio Perez.

Since being promoted from Toro Rosso (known now as AlphaTauri) to Red Bull at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Verstappen has gotten the better of all his team-mates, with nobody having had consistent pace throughout a campaign to really take the fight to the Dutchman.

Perez is arguably Verstappen’s first team-mate since Daniel Ricciardo to actually compete against the 25-year-old, something which has put Red Bull in a difficult position.

The likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon struggled to deal with Verstappen’s stature, with the Dutchman having been far superior.

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As a result, Perez stated ahead of the recent Australian Grand Prix that Red Bull “were just going racing with two cars because they had to” prior to his arrival.

Horner was asked whether Perez’s comment came as a surprise; however, the team boss gave a very diplomatic response.

“Well, that’s the first I’ve heard him saying that,” Horner admitted.

“We always have run two cars since we entered the sport in 2005 and we always want to have the best two drivers that we can in the car and I think it’s great to see Checo doing certainly a great job now.”

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Perez has certainly taken the fight to Verstappen so far this season; however, he was arguably in the Dutchman’s shadow in 2021 and 2022.

The team have certainly given Perez and Verstappen equal opportunities so far this year, as well as the best car, something Horner states Red Bull “always” strive to do.

“In ‘ 21, he (Perez) came into the car off the back of the Covid season and at the end of a set of regulations, and he struggled with that car,” added Horner.

“Last year, he was definitely more at home within the car and he put in two of our 17 victories achieved. And he’s got out of the blocks well again this year, but we’re only two races into the season and there’s an awful long, long way to go.

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“As a team we’ve always strived to give both drivers the best opportunity and the best equipment we can.

“And then it’s down to what they do on track and that’s whether it’s Max and Checo, or Daniel and Max or Daniel and Seb, Mark and Seb or even going back David Coulthard and Mark Weber.

“So that’s the way we’ve always rolled and it’s down to what they do on the circuit at the end of the day that counts.”