Perez delivering “exactly what we’ve been looking for” – Horner

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Sergio Perez’s performance in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is exactly what the team has needed.

On Sunday Perez became the first driver to win for Red Bull other than Max Verstappen since Daniel Ricciardo left them three years ago. Ricciardo’s seat was taken first by Pierre Gasly, then Alexander Albon, neither of which were able to win a race for the team.

Perez, who was dropped by Racing Point (now Aston Martin) at the end of last season, was picked up by Red Bull to partner Verstappen. He scored his first victory for the team last weekend, shadowing Verstappen throughout the race until his team mate retired due to a tyre failure.

“We knew he was good around here but we didn’t he know he was that good,” Horner admitted. “He’s been quick all weekend, he’s been bang on the pace.

“The only one lap he made a mistake was Q3, run one. And his race was phenomenal.”

Perez came close to taking the lead from Verstappen earlier in the race, but lost time at his pit stop as he was slightly out of position in his box. However his pace allowed him to jump ahead of Lewis Hamilton at that point to hold second behind his team mate.

“Had he not been long at the first stop, he would have been right on top of Max for the overcut at that point as well such was his pace in clean air,” said Horner. “So, phenomenal for him.

“The way he was defending to Lewis and controlling it was a class act. So to see him get that victory, I think will be great for his confidence, it puts him up to third in the drivers’ championship now. So I think he’s ahead of expectations.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Perez’s performance provided valuable back-up on a day when Verstappen hit trouble, said Horner, something the team hasn’t always been able to count on in recent years. “It’s great to have both cars up there,” he said.

Mick Schumacher, Haas, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Pictures: 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
“I think that is an added string to our bow, on the day that you lose your lead, that Checo is right there to deliver the win. That’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.

“So I’m delighted for him, pleased for the team, for the amount of effort that’s been going on behind the scenes and for all our partners as well, they’re working incredibly hard. So it’s just everybody doing their bit and Checo being part of that.”

Horner said Perez needs to keep producing more of the same performances to ensure his place in the team for the 2022 F1 season.

“I’m really happy with the job that Checo is doing,” he said. “We’re only on race six out of 23, we’ve got plenty of time, he is enjoying being in the team, he’s doing a great job and he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

83 comments on “Perez delivering “exactly what we’ve been looking for” – Horner”

  1. Must be especially great for the engineers on that side of the garage to finally have a driver that can fight for podiums and even wins again after three years of seeing the engineers on Max’s end get all the glory. Of course they’re all one team, but I’d imagine you still have a major bias towards “your” driver, after all.

    1. And it put an end to the much heard narrative about different cars.
      RBR has no reason to put the second driver in a lesser car.
      Difference between cars is not uncommon and a result of setup choices by the driver.

      1. Or the tiresome ‘suits his driving style’ or ‘built around him’ narrative

      2. Funny, because Perez has been nowhere near Verstappen. Now that they have a way better car and Perez being slightly better dan Albon, it looks a lot better, but it’s not. Only 2 weeks ago, Perez qualified a second behind Verstappen at Monaco, not so long ago he was driving terrible in Monza.

        Now, because he got a win gifted to him, people think he is doing way better. He was actually driving decent, but at a serious distance to Verstappen (+6 seconds) without Verstappen really pushing.

        1. Perhaps, but 6 seconds is a lot better than a lap down to Max. Not to mention the reduced testing and practice time this year. Surely you would agree he’s doing a better job than the others

        2. Tim Lemmens And of course we know that drivers new to teams need some time, and it was obvious at Baku that he was so much more on it that it looks like the time needed and taken has paid off and there’s a good chance he’ll be more solid now. You simply sound like a non-fan and prefer to look at the glass half empty when it comes to SP.

          1. It’s more that one good drive doesn’t make a season, when just two weeks ago he was trailing a cruziing Verstappen 20+ seconds and was a second behind him in qualifying.

            To be more clear, we don’t know where he would have finished, as he was losing time at the moment of Verstappen’s failure. But it probably would have been the first time (!) within 10 seconds of Max and it would still be a long way down, when both drivers would have had an equal part of the race in free air.

            So yeah he might have found a magic “click” in 2 weeks, or he just had a better weekend and the Red Bull was again the best car, as it was in Monaco.

            Maybe you should wait a few races before saying Perez is delivering, just like Horner should.

          2. Tim Lemmens I get your pessimistic and at the same time I am not claiming SP will ‘only’ be putting in solid performances and delivering from here on in, but certainly for the number of races that have been run so far he has shown that he has progressed and it is at least looking promising for him to keep doing so. Nor is Horner claiming he is now ‘delivering’ like he is maxed out now and is totally comfortable with the car at all tracks and will be shadowing Max from here on in. SP himself says he feels like he has learned some things about the car, which of course why wouldn’t he, and is obviously finding ways to be more comfortable and confident in it. It’s always a work in progress.

        3. Don’t be naive, the moment he got himself between Max and Lewis he was playing defense. His role is to help Max get that WDC, he knows it.

      3. To be fair Perez comes to the team with some experiance, as such he is less likely to be a ‘yes’ man, but will instead ask for changes to his set up, which the engineer side would be wise to listen to.

        The other drivers in that seat, im guessing , simply took what they were served and tried to make the most of it. Confidence in the driver should have the engineering side listening and adapting, as well as presenting him with the numbers.

    2. @aiii Albon was fighting for P2 or the win a few times.

        1. @jerejj How is that funny? You mean you forgot when that happened?

          1. @f1osaurus Only Brazil and Austria 1.

          2. @jerejj Exactly. So a few times.

            How is that funny?

          3. @f1osaurus Because you initially appeared to rate Albon better.

          4. @jerejj I didn’t. At best I was showing they were equally bad.

    3. Davethechicken
      9th June 2021, 17:07

      Perez’s track record is of a good solid pair of hands. He has never made the case that he is amongst the best on the grid.
      I would rate him in the top half of the current grid, but not by much.
      That is exactly what rbr are looking for.
      A safe pair of hands that won’t rock the boat by beating Max often.

      1. All his career underrated, and still proving people like you wrong.

      2. It makes it more enjoyable to watch when Checo outperforms expectations. This is the first year he’s had a race winning car and been in a team fighting for the championship and he’s still not maximising that car yet. He will continue to improve.

        1. Perez will never have the pace of Ham, Ver or Alonso. But he is only a fraction behind those guys.

          I can’t think of a second tier driver that Perez wouldn’t beat easily. Maybe Perez vs Ricciardo would be a fair fight?

          Reply moderated
          1. Davethechicken
            10th June 2021, 14:24

            I don’t think he would beat Leclerc, Sainz, Russell, Norris either.

  2. These are encouraging words from Christian for PER. But I won’t read too much into it till RBR decides to renew his contract.

    Btw the article needs to be corrected for quite a few grammar errors, few sentences doesn’t make sense

      1. lol

        Reply moderated
      2. “Doesn’t make sense” is a common usage in my country- thanks for pointing this out will learn about using this.

        1. One sentence does not make sense.
          A few sentences do not make sense.

          1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
            9th June 2021, 9:30

            In some languages (incl. mine, Dutch) “a few” is considered to be a singular noun, hence the inclination to say that “a few does”.
            Linguistics class dismissed.

          2. @hanswesterbeek To add to the confusion: ‘a few’ is not the same as ‘few’ :)

          3. Linguistics class reconvened.

            In some languages (incl. mine, Dutch) “a few” is considered to be a singular noun

            “a few” (dutch “een paar”) is plural.
            “a pair” (dutch “een paar”) is singular. (it refers to ‘two’ items belonging together)

            Linguistics class dismissed.

            PS same in English, e.g. pair of scissors, pair of trousers.

          4. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
            9th June 2021, 10:54

            Came here for the F1 stuff, stayed here for the linguistic advice. :-)

          5. Mark in Florida
            9th June 2021, 21:58

            Some people can’t help being overly pedantic. I know what you mean, I have that much intelligence. With the advent of auto spell I often have go over everything I’ve typed to make sure that my “intelligent” computer hasn’t changed a word into complete nonsense. So please carry on with the comments, lets skip the English class.

    1. That may well be, however “few sentences doesn’t make sense” doesn’t make sense in many other countries.

      The moral being do not be quite so defensive when you are happy to critique others for the same thing.

      More on topic, I have never been a major fan of Perez, but it’s nice to see someone get a shot at a decent seat before being prematurely discarded for a change. In my humble opinion there have been to many decent drivers overlooked in favour of the hope from new talent. Wrong places wrong time of course for many. Fortunately a number of them have forged decent careers elsewhere, but I don’t dought that some ponder what might have been.

      1. Agreed
        But it should be “too many decent drivers” (sorry I couldn’t help it!)

      2. To continue with the theme…

        It should be “but I don’t doubt” and not dought.

        Also, I think Perez has been one of the most underrated drivers on the grid for a fairly long time. As an F1 fan, I’m happy that he ended up in a Red Bull and excited to see how he does over the rest of the season.

      3. Yes, but Hemz isn’t getting paid to write an article for a professional publication

  3. And about time too

  4. I agree and hope he keeps on performing consistently in both race and qualifying-trim. Replacing Albon with him was definitely justified as I doubt Albon in this race, would’ve been up in the mix to take the win following Max’s DNF. 2020 Albon most certainly not. Perez’s performance level is, of course, also unideal news for Gasly’s possible repromotion chance for next season, if he still has any. Nevertheless, keeping Perez would be wise unless his performance dropped and especially unless Gasly would be the one replacing him because Tsunoda is in his first season racing in F1 and Albon doesn’t really do any racing this year, so he’d possibly be rusty next year.

    1. Well, if we have to believe Marko than Gasly’s promotion is a dream, Gasly’s dream till he wakes up.
      He either is really slow in comparison to Max, or Gasly’s “I want to change everything on my first day at the team” mentality is far far worse than we have been told.

      Reply moderated
  5. Where Mercedes seem to struggle on street circuits, Perez seems to love them. if he can put that performance in on a regular circuit Hamilton (and Verstappen) has something to worry about.

  6. Perez does really well at street circuits. Especially Baku! So let’s hope he can keep the same momentum at tracks like Paul Ricard and Austria

    1. I’m not sure about Paul Ricard. But he had a couple of good races in Austria last year and was unlucky to finish 6th in both. He came from 17th and was looking on for a podium until he touched Albon and broke his front wing. If he can solve his qualifying issues at that double header he should be very strong on that track.

  7. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    9th June 2021, 11:03

    I think he’s got to get his qualifying a bit sharper but his races have been mostly great, and he looked every bit a frontrunner at Baku. Picking up the win when Verstappen falls might be on one hand a bit lucky as he didn’t seem able to beat him, but on the other it was certainly deserved – he was right there in competition for it from the start. Starting to agree with people that he might end up being the decisive factor in the championship that Red Bull needed. I’ve always quite liked Perez, I’m glad to see him succeed.

    Though, I do still think Albon was treated unfairly by Red Bull, and really deserved to be still in F1. To another team with less pressure, sure. Needed to learn more? Absolutley. But to be dropped completely? No way. There’s way worse with less potential still on the grid. He deserved the chance to reinvent himself like Gasly has done.

    1. It would have been interesting had Albon won the first race last season instead of rushing and colliding with Hamilton – would Horner have come up with the “ just what we need” then.

      Perez is doing about as well as I expected – OK in the races, not altogether dissimilar TonAlbon when he started, and still about the same amount behind Max in qualifying.

      I do think he’ll improve on that as the season progresses, which is something that his predecessors failed to do, so all round probably a positive for RBR

      1. One again, talk without context. that austria race, albon had a tyre advantage due to SC. he should have won that race.
        Albon was hopeless. not saying he isn’t a decent driver, but nowhere good enough for a constructors championship challenge.

        When did albon ever challenge or compete with either mercedes when on the same tyre/strategy. never. not once he was close to them or verstappen. perez literally was the fastest in stint 1 and was keeping hamilton behind him despite drs and blitzing sector 2. big respect to him. his race pace has been good overall this season.

        perez wont be a championship challenger though as his qualifying is poor. I mean really poor, biggest weakness as a driver.

        Reply moderated
        1. His qualifying when comfortable with the car is pretty decent. I looked back at his first season at Force India and in the first half of the season he was off the pace in qualifying but the second half he was right there on it for most tracks and he did much better the following season. The previous season he out qualified Button at McLaren. He may not be a qualifying specialist, but he will start to get closer as the season unfolds.

      2. I really wonder how good current Gasly would’ve been in a RBR car.
        Dr Marko should paint the 2nd RBR car in AlphaTauri’s colours and don’t tell Gasly anything.

      3. @dbradock I’d say there’s no ‘probably a positive’ about it, and that they definitely are chuffed at SP’s progress. As Horner has said. I do acknowledge SP is having the luxury of a better car than AA had, but we surely don’t know all the inside stuff about the level of faith they had in AA from every angle going forward with him, and so now it’s SP, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles when there are only such few seats available in F1 let alone on a top team. If SP can now carry this progress on and maintain strong performances we cannot say he has squandered the opportunity, and rather he will likely be the help to Max equal to the help LH has had from VB strategy wise, and that will be everything they’re hoping for from SP. Of course the ideal would be front row lockouts for RBR like Mercedes has enjoyed so much of the time since 2014.

      4. I was just going to comment like that @dbradock Albon is good enough to win a race but his off days are far worse than Perez’. There are still so much to race for in this season that this win won’t save Perez if he drives awfully in upcoming races. But he got that win for the second car what RB have waited since Ricciardo.

  8. I love Checo and can’t stand Lewis, but lets be honest, Checo lost the restart to Lewis and only won because the WDC finally made a mistake with the button and all that. If Lewis had made the corner, Markko would have been all over Checo…

    1. only won because the WDC finally made a mistake

      Who knows, he might have been able to retake the lead.

      Perez was very fast and very confident in the twisty part of the track (just remember his first lap passes and how he gained half a second on Hamilton here lap after lap), so he would have been breathing down Hamilton’s neck during those last two laps.

      On the long straight he consistently lost around 0.3-0.4 seconds to LH but had it been Perez in second place, the gap between them at the beginning of the straight would have been easily within 1 second as opposed to the 1.5 seconds Hamilton had to deal with. That along with a nice tow would have provided a realistic overtaking opportunity.

      1. Then… there is the issue with Perez engine. He said that they were cautios on the restart because the engine had given signs of wanting to die any second.
        Of course HAM made a mistake, thats part of it, but Perez was a little compromised himself.
        He did such a great race holding Hamilton back for 30+ laps… that at the end, it did seem unfair to hold that sprint race just for the sake of the show.
        Also, we will never know if he had direct orders to protect VER and not to fight him for P1 (very likely). And then at the end, he got a great reward for a great race.

        Reply moderated
    2. Not so sure about that, Lew got ahead of Checo, but mostly because he couldn’t brake. You can pretty much always overtake a rival before a sharp corner… and then miss the corner by not braking. The hard part is braking late enough to overtake and still make the corner.

    3. You do realise Checo Couldnt warm his tires up on the lap to the grid? He was told not to weave because his car was leaking hydraulic fluid and they didn’t want his power steering to fail before the end of the race. So all in all his start wasn’t too bad and he was fortunate not to get a good start and get collected by Lewis.

  9. The trouble with Perez is that he only puts in a decent performance in exactly tracks like Baku and Canada. The rest of the seasons he’s always been pretty much invisible.

    1. Will be interesting to see for he’s never had this level of car either. And we all know how crucial that is.

    2. Especially in Bahrain (both races) and Abu Dabhi last year. I remember his bad performances there!

      Oh, wait…

      1. What do you from Abu Dhabi then? That he was driving around at the back of the field?

        I guess you are thinking of that one race when all 5 cars ahead of him were not in the race (anymore)?

        Either way, the fact that you only “remember” that few races EXACTLY proves my point that it’s indeed only very few races per season where he actually does do something decent.

        1. In the cars he’s had in the past.

          1. @robbie Car that was 3rd fastest

          2. Lol he’s never been in a car that has placed higher than 4th in the Constructors, so claiming 3rd fastest for what must be an absolutely tiny percentage of his career up to this year is of course weak. 3rd fastest when? In what sustainable way such that there is some evidence that he had ‘the car’ but squandered it?

        2. He didnt finish 4th in the WDC by scoring in only 3 races… he had points in all the races he competed, until his car blew out at the last races of the season.

          Reply moderated
        3. You are judging a driver who had always driven a non winning car, and sitll made 11 podiums, man I would love to see Lewis in a midfield car struggling like he has with the mercedes in last 2 races, to really rate how hard is for midfield drivers to get pace without clean air, and without a dominant car. No matter what I have seen people underrating Perez drive, I heard some said He would never be a race winner, other said It was impossible for him to be considered by Redbull, and save this post, Perez is going to be closer to HAM, than he will be to Bottas. An I wouldnt be suprised if Perez were 2nd over Hamilton at the end of the season.

          1. No I’m not. The fact is that he only performs to a decent level on a few times per season.

            11 podiums in about as much years. Yeah well.

            Hamilton won races in the 2009 McLaren. He’s perfectly fine overachieving as a standard level. Perez can only do that 2 or 3 times per season.

            He’s a decent midfield driver, but don’t pretend one decent race suddenly means he’s WDC material.

    3. His results have been right in line with the car he was driving. And his podium results in Istanbul, Sepang and Monaco prove he has more than one trick up his sleeve.

  10. gr8guns (@guns-gurugmail-com)
    9th June 2021, 14:33

    This! The resurgence in Perez’s performance was the key factor in last race, that changed everything, and very few people are focusing on! Everyone is talking about the tyre blowout, what verstappen deserves, Hamilton’s mistake etc, but Perez is the one who made life difficult for Merc and Hamilton. Had he not been up in 2nd and fought Hamilton so hard, Ham would’ve been right at Max’s tail and the situation would’ve been so different at the restart. I am sure Perez will continue to play a key role in the championship, unless Bottas steps in too (which I find less likely given where he is at with his tenure at Merc compared to Perez at Redbull) and turn into one significant factor that Merc will have to contend with. I was thinking all race, that’s it Perez has arrived, Ham/Merc’s challenge has increased 10-fold with the championship trophy pushed that bit further away, unless technically, they significantly out develop Redbull as in the previous years. This year, we either see a Merc collapse or competition fading away yet again circa 2018 Ferrari… either ways, should be a cracker, bring it on!

    P.S. If Merc are as cut throat and desperate, one shouldn’t be surprised if they even make a bid for replacing Bottas with Russel in the second car mid-season!

    Reply moderated
    1. There is no way Ham would have been on Max if Perez wasn’t there. The Merc was losing all its time between turns 8 to 10, and as long as Perez/Max kept that part clean Ham could never get close enough to either of them down the straight.
      I see Perez being offered a new contract in the summer, with Russell probably being announced at Silverstone. Bottas will see out his contract with Merc.

  11. I just love how little love this web site and its ussers have towards SP, i just hope he doesnt read this lame of a site and its content.
    For the people minimising his win, saying that he only won because verstapen crash and hamilton mistake, isnt that what racing is abbout? Not making mistakes and WIN?

    1. Checo fan here!

      Just let them talk. Lewis himself has almost a century of wins and some will still say he is overrated as a driver. It makes no sense to argue with those people.

      Great to see that you enjoyed Checo’s win as much as I did…

      1. NeverElectric
        10th June 2021, 2:06

        Many fans are in “horses for courses” mode, generally. These days, those that belittle Hamilton’s ability tend to be Max, Lando, or Russell fans (previously, they were Nico fans, or Vettel fans, or Button fans, or Alonso…etc). None of these would have any reason to particularly like Checo.
        I think he will do a fantastic job in that car.

  12. 1. I imagine RedBull have thought through their approach and expectations towards new drivers and thus relaxed their regime a little bit when Checo arrived

    2. Checo is waaaay more experienced in dealing with the pressure and politics inside a team and a more complete driver overall

    3. Checo is certainly well aware of the fact that this is the golden ticket he has been waiting for for years and his motivation levels must be through the roof

    4. This year’s RedBull is more competitive than the ones Gasly and Albon used to drive

    = More favorable conditions and more success

    1. 1. I’m not so sure about that. I just think they had little option once DR left, and had to do their best with PG and AA until a better option became available.

      2. Agree completely although I doubt there is much in the way of politics he has to deal with.

      3. Agree hugely.

      4. For sure.

  13. Very encouraging but don’t know what to make of why he’s nowhere and suddenly on the pace, although he did say he would need 5 races to get on top of the car and Baku was the 6th race..

    Generally it seems he needs time to get warmed up to speed which is why qualifying is not so good, but end of races is, so quite surprised with his first lap now. Maybe he felt forced to go for some risks this time. Hopefully this will be how he approaches the rest of the races. Go balls to the wall on the first run in Q3 etc. Or even start the whole weekend like that.

    1. @balue I’m not sure that it isn’t much more than he simply has learned some things about the car and setups that help him find balance and comfort and therefore confidence in the car now that he’s had some time with it, and his crew, and they some time to adjust to his likings as well. It’s a lot easier to go balls to the wall when you feel like doing that won’t send you into the wall.

    2. Perez usually has slow start, last season after 5 races he had only 19 points and he was like 12 in the championship, he managed to be 4th by the end of the season. So I expect him to be closing the Gap to HAM until the point he will be on his toes by Abu dhabi.

  14. This win gives him a much needed breathing space from savages like Horner and Marko who would not waste anytime roasting him if what happened on the other races had happened again.

    He had a really good performance and that would not change if Hamilton didn’t overshoot that corner and had won the race. That’s how close he is from being hero to zero with these guys.

    He’s a quality driver and i hope this win gives him the boost in confidence he needs to start racing at the very top for once and for all.

    1. Yeah what savages. The nerve of them to have hired Perez when those saints at AM cut him loose in favour of Vettel while he was under contract with them.

  15. Sergey Martyn
    10th June 2021, 13:58

    Viva Checo!

    1. What’s up, enemy, how’s it going?

  16. Davethechicken
    10th June 2021, 16:27

    Time will tell. I think you will be proved wrong.

  17. F1MadFan1970 (@)
    10th June 2021, 17:21

    Good on Perez but this totally contradicts what he and Marko were saying a few weeks ago.

  18. Yes, well done to perez, I knew he wasn’t like albon or gasly at red bull.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.