Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2021

Perez’s performance in final races “vital” to Red Bull’s title hopes

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Christian Horner says Sergio Perez’s performance over the final two races will be “vital” if the team is to prevail in its world championship fights with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

After admitting that Red Bull were pleasantly surprised by their pace in Friday’s practice sessions compared to Mercedes – with championship leader Max Verstappen just two tenths of a second off the fastest time of the day – Horner said the team need to ensure his team mate is also at the sharp end of the field on Sunday.

“He’s vital,” Horner said of Perez. “He’s going to play a crucial role in these next two races – as is Valtteri [Bottas].

“I think that we need Checo. He’s had a good run of form recently, finding his feet and confidence with the car. And really since, I would say, pretty much Monza, his performances have grown and grown and grown. I think that we really need him right there the next couple of weekends.”

Perez failed to make the cut for the final round of qualifying at the last race in Qatar, leaving Verstappen the only Red Bull driver in the front half of the grid. Perez ended today’s running ninth fastest, half a second off his team mate – a deficit he put purely down to traffic he encountered during his soft tyre runs.

“I think we saw a bit what happened when everyone was on the soft tyre at the end,” said Perez. “So it can get very tricky, very messy, very quickly. And then on the long run, we didn’t have enough laps to get a read.”

Asked if he believed his best lap time was truly reflective of his pace, Perez replied “no, no, I don’t think so. I think there is plenty more to come tomorrow. So hopefully we are able to find the right balance, the right pace to be in contention for tomorrow.

“I think that it will be an interesting race. A lot of things can happen – we saw Charles [Leclerc] today. It’s a track that if you make a mistake, it can be extremely costly. So we just have to stay there and be on it as much as possible.”

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2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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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...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Perez’s performance in final races “vital” to Red Bull’s title hopes”

  1. All this, but there is also Gasly, doing so well.

    Verstappen destroys teammates like Alonso did at Ferrari.

    There is a questionmark regarding that cars development, that pace advantage cannot be all ability, some is preference to some driving characteristics.

    It seems RedBull is content with that?

  2. Davethechicken
    4th December 2021, 7:58

    The caveat being the quality of Max’s teammates. He was very even with Sainz at TR and Riccardo had his measure.
    But yes, he has despatched Albon., Gasly, Kvyat and Perez. But then again they won’t be easily remembered names in 10 years time! Without checking on Google-Who drove for TR 10 years ago?
    So many fast drivers out there but RBR and Merc chose Perez and Bottas to partner their number one drivers to keep the harmony.
    Be good to see Max challenged properly by a top quality driver as a teammate, the way Alonso and the rookie Hamilton did at McLaren. A Rosberg or Button. Only then can we actually judge how good he is.
    Until that would happen, we just have to listen to media hype and PR about the greatest drivers ever blah blah blah, just to fill the grandstands.

    1. @Davethechicken Kvyat & he haven’t been teammates but otherwise, spot-on.

    2. The only problem Max has is that he doesn’t drive a Mercedes. He has no chance to fight Hamilton on equal grounds. Only then we can judge how good he is. And Hamilton for that matter.

      1. Davethechicken
        4th December 2021, 11:29

        Yes agreed. With have a barometer for Hamilton in Alonso, but nothing near that calibre for Max.

      2. Max is definitely better than hamilton in terms of raw pace, agility and reaction, but all partly because he is young, lewis is not in his prime anymore, he has lots of to lose. You dont need them to be in the same machine. But better machinery accounts for 80% success, so that’s what it is.

    3. Gasly will be remembered. From hero to zero to hero again. If you look past ‘who won the drivers championship that year?’, you will remember Gasly (just like the Raikkonen from McLaren is remembered, despite not winning at the time).

  3. Davethechicken
    4th December 2021, 7:59

    Was in reply to @jureo

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