Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

The pressure is off Perez now points gap to Verstappen is so large – Horner

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez has put himself under too much pressure to match team mate Max Verstappen and will benefit from falling further behind him in the drivers’ championship, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes.

Verstappen scored his third consecutive win in the Spanish Grand Prix yesterday. Over that period he has increased his lead over Perez at the top of the drivers’ standings from six points to 53.

Perez started the last two races outside the top 10 after errors in qualifying. He recovered from 11th on the grid yesterday to finish fourth, which Horner said was better than Red Bull expected and should give his driver a confidence boost.

“It was a very good recovery, particularly the second half of the race for Checo,” said Horner. “And I think for him, that will give him a lot of confidence. He’s had a difficult Monaco, difficult Saturday here, a stronger Sunday.

Perez emerged from the midfield to take fourth
“Looking at the gap now between the two drivers, which is pretty significant, in many respects that will take pressure off his shoulders and I think that’ll allow him just to now relax, not put pressure on himself and just re-find the form that he had in those early races.”

Asked whether Perez had pushed himself too hard to match Verstappen, Horner said: “I think so.”

“We know what Checo is capable of, we’ve seen in races like Azerbaijan and Saudi already this year what he’s capable of doing, and I’m sure he’ll re-find that form in the future.”

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Verstappen acknowledged he’s had a “good period” in recent races after Perez took a pair of wins in the opening rounds.

Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Spanish Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
“But we have to keep on working and trying to find more performance. I’m happy in the car and I think the last few race weekends have definitely been a lot more positive for me.

“This is one weekend where I think it went really well but we also know that maybe some other tracks it’s not like this, so there are a lot of races to come where we again have to perform really well to try and win the race.”

Following the strongest performance of the season so far by Mercedes, Verstappen said he’s looking forward to having more competition from outside Red Bull.

“I think it’s great for the sport in general if you have more teams fighting up front. That’s, I think, what they want to achieve so honestly that would be amazing, to have more drivers really up there, and hopefully throughout the year it will already get closer and maybe next year there are more teams really up there.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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    45 comments on “The pressure is off Perez now points gap to Verstappen is so large – Horner”

    1. Nice tap on the shoulders, isn’t it?

      In any case, he’s right. Now Perez can be a happy person trying to win the odd race instead of forcing a dream of a championship fight that was never going to happen. Sergio’s great, can be as fast as anyone, but I don’t think he has what it takes to fight against the talented one in the team. He’s more a Barrichello, than Webber or Rosberg. Very few succeed in beating someone this good, and to give it a proper go you have to be ruthless, almost nasty, inside and outside the racetrack.

      I think, ultimately, Sergio is too nice of a guy to play the political game, make the fight as toxic as possible, because that’s the only way to find cracks at the other side of the garage…

      1. He’s more a Barrichello, than Webber or Rosberg.

        Or maybe Verstappen is more of a Schumacher than Vettel and Hamilton were. Barrichello was very much a rising star in the late 90s, and held in high-esteem. He wasn’t an ‘Irvine’, who had no qualms about admitting he wasn’t close to Schumacher’s level. Ferrari very much wanted a stronger 2nd driver after the failure to win the title in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The only driver Barrichello compared notably poorly against was Schumacher. Even in the latter stages of his career, when he left Ferrari, he was pretty close to Button and won multiple races in the Brawn.

        Ever since his 2018 wake-up call, Verstappen has been at a very high level. While the moniker of ‘best in F1’ may have been arguable before, the way he’s been executing races even from way back has been very close to perfect. Even if other teams somehow caught up with Red Bull, Verstappen would still be the clear favourite to win the title.

        1. Coventry CLimax
          5th June 2023, 12:15

          Even in the latter stages of his career, when he left Ferrari, he was pretty close to Button and won multiple races in the Brawn.

          2 wins over Button’s 6. 5 times ahead of his team mate, over 17 races. Finished 3rd in the championship, compared to Button’s 1st.

          Technically, that’s a ‘multiple win’, but the choice of words is very flattering.
          As for your definition of ‘pretty close’, I think that needs a big overhaul.

          I know the Williams wasn’t much of a car, but his performance there was below par.
          2010: Barichello finished 14th, compared to rookie Hulkenberg’s 10th place. Hulkenberg suffered two DNF’s more than Barichello.
          2011: Barichello finished 17th in the championship, over Maldonado’s 19th, again a rookie. Maldonado had 6 retirements, Barichello 3.

          While Barichello may go down in history as a nice person, he will not do so as a great F1 driver.

          1. What are you talking about? Barrichello beat rookie Hulk 47 points to 21.

            Where did you get that he finished 14th?

            1. @Edvaldo he switched Barichello’s and Hulkenberg’s results. The amount of retirements is correct, but they don’t come close to explaining the gap of more than double the points.

            2. Coventry Climax
              5th June 2023, 14:00

              My bad; I switched their 10th and 14th championship positions.
              But what was trying to say is, in my eyes, still valid.

          2. Button had some real whoppers in the second half of the season, meaning he had a worse qualifying record than Barrichello, and in the races Barrichello finished an average of only 1 position behind Button in 2009. Was he beaten? Sure, Button made the most of Brawns early-season advantage, and that’s fair enough. Either way, Button never won in the second half of the championship when other teams had caught up with double diffusers of their own. But Barrichello did, twice.

            Hülkenberg was indeed close to Barrichello in qualifying in 2010, but couldn’t deliver nearly as often in the races (unfortunately a familiar theme for him in F1). And as noted; it was Barrichello who outscored Hülkenberg – and by quite a margin.

            1. Coventry Climax
              5th June 2023, 14:15

              Your remark about the second half of 2009 seem fair enough. Barichello however, already had a year experience within the team, then still known as Honda. Button was a newcomer. So it took Barichello half a season to adapt to come to terms to the car. There may also have been some sort of development direction at play here, although I don’t remember Brawn doing very much of it, due to limited budget likely.

              As for 2010, you shoot yourself in the foot a bit, saying that Hulkenberg clearly isn’t the best racer. Maybe Barichello’s ‘quite a margin’ should have been more of ‘a huge margin’?

              Anyway, Barichello’s career – like Checo’s- fails to impress me. Sorry.

            2. @Coventry Climax

              sorry, but now i know you’re taking this from Wikipedia, most likely, aren’t you?
              Button was on that team since 2003, Barrichello got there in 2006. Both had plenty of experience with that team.

            3. Button and Barrichello were teammates since 2006, so Button was far from a newcomer.

        2. A 2018 wake-up call for Verstappen?

          What did i miss?

        3. Oh stop, Barrichello was not much better than Irvine. They were team-mates in 1996 at Jordan and close to equal.
          The only difference was that after Barrichello’s 1993 pole at Spa and Senna’s death in 1994, he was Brazil’s only hope for another great driver in F1, which he never was.
          And then he got smashed by Button, who was a grade B champion.

      2. Got to say i took offense in reading that Webber is being put on the same group of Rosberg and not Barrichello.

        That guy only had his moments in 2010 thanks to vettel going through a rough patch of mistakes and DNFs

        After that it was a beatdown.

        And Rosberg, like all of Hamilton’s team mates apart from bottas and kovalainen, had at his hands the tools to beat him.

        Whereas at Red Bull they always pair an older journeyman with their precious star so they can do most of their talking in the track.

        1. As Webber himself admitted, he could never get the full performance out of the Pirelli tyres that were introduced in 2011. While that was undoubtedly a weakness of his compared to Vettel, it wasn’t just Vettel’s mishaps in 2010 that kept him in the running then.

          1. Not only, but mostly.
            He had 3 very good races that year, Spain, Monaco and Turkey where he was better than Vettel, plain and simple.

            For the rest of the season Vettel had car failures or made costly mistakes that hurt his chances, with Webber colecting 2 of those wins, but in terms of performance, he was already much faster than Webber.

        2. I’m a big fan of Webber, and I don’t mean that he got the best of Vettel on talent, but he did play the political game. The not bad for a number 2 thing, he fought his corner hard. Sergio’s never going to do that…

          1. It’s always awkward for everyone else when someone who clearly cannot perform at the level of his teammate pulls stunts like that.

            No one gains. Not even the driver with the counterfactually overinflated opinion of their own abilities.

      3. Coventry Climax
        5th June 2023, 11:53

        There’s no point in finding the cracks with someone else when your incapable of solving your own first, which is something that Rosberg, for example, did manage. Webber was quite consistently up there, for Checo tghe word consistency does not apply. Barichello then? He looked quite promising in the early stages, but in his eagerness to sign up with Ferrari, allowed for the ‘designated second’ clause in his contract. Sorry, but that does not make you a great racing driver.

        1. Webber was quite consistently up there

          No, he wasn’t.

          Mark didn’t even manage to finish directly behind Seb once in their five years together at Red Bull Racing.

          Heck, Mark got himself beat by Seb in 2017, when Seb was still at Toro Rosso.

        2. Coventry Climax
          5th June 2023, 15:00

          OK, shouldn’t have used the word ‘quite’. Probably ‘a bit more’ would have been better.


          3×3=exactly 9
          4+5=exactly 9
          and, 1+1=close to 3

          Surely you don’t mean to say 1+1 isn’t 3, it’s 2, so the other things aren’t true either?

          1. Surely, I didn’t mean to say 2017 when it was 2007 I was referring to. 😜

      4. The fact that redbull published this press release must hurt a lot. I thibk Perez really believed thatt he had a shot at the WDC.

        1. It really feels like Horner and the team are happy they can now revert to just being open about Perez’ role as being the support driver instead of keeping up the pretense that they will expect both of them to fight over the championship and be only content when they push each other everywhere @cdfemke.

          Now, it never seems Verstappen needs any teammates to push him to get the best performance. The shadow of his fathers wrath is too engrained to ever have him slack so far. And we all know that there was not much chance of Perez actually managing to do it (then again, we thought that about Rosberg vs. Hamilton as well and in the end Nico did dig deep enough in all aspects he could find and managed to win one.)

      5. Barrichello was much more on par with Schumacher than Perez was ever to Max, in an era that even the tyre supplier worked to Schumacher preferences.

    2. Trouble is, Max isn’t exactly under any pressure either …

    3. Hope is lost, title is gone, be ready for another long song..

      1. Yellow Baron
        6th June 2023, 12:03’re not wrong, this truth is strong, but there is hope across the pond, head over to Indycar for a new dawn

    4. Does Checo suddenly no longer believe that

      Verstappen is the toughest team mate but I have the speed to beat him


      1. Coventry Climax
        5th June 2023, 12:24

        Well, those were Checo’s words, these are Horner’s.
        So you should ask Checo, not us. ;-)

        I think Checo’s words were a bit of a pep-talk to himself, I doubt he ever truly believed (or believes) them himself.

    5. Curious how Marco and horner cant even try to look and sound neutral about this.

      It’s always about how being WDC against Max is no more than a pipe dream for Perez and he have to accept his role as a supporting piece and shut up.

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th June 2023, 12:26

        It might help if Checo himself didn’t mess up that often?

      2. If you would just read what he’s actually saying, it sounds quite supportive towards his driver.

        I mean face it, it’s his third season against Max and at no point has he ever really given the impression that he is capable of mounting a title bid against Max. So why on earth would you expect Horner to tell with a straight face that the battle is very much on?

        1. He should not say the battle is on, he shouldn’t say anything. The public knows he doesn’t stand a chance.

          But in what way painting the deal as done with just 7 races and that he should just relax and not push himself too hard to beat Max isn’t the same as saying “you’re number 2, act the part”, i don’t know.

      3. Red Bull would love a Mexican WDC in their team. That’s a huge market, and having two champions is always better than one. But… for that to happen Pérez needs to step up, and it doesn’t seem like he can. He can stick with Verstappen on a few select tracks (not unlike Bottas could genuinely compete with Hamilton at the same couple of tracks every season), but not over the course of a full season with its variety of tracks.

      4. Perez was without a seat before 2021. Red Bull literally saved his career. Let’s be honest they do and say what they want, they owe him nothing really.

      5. Horner was trying to put a positive spin on Checo’s abysmal performances over the last two races. So yeah, he wasn’t exactly being neutral. The neutral observer would probably remark that Checo really messed up two qualifying’s in a row, completely squandered the opportunities provided to him by a superior car. And somehow ended up from being a championship contender to allowing his rival the comfort of two non-point finishes and still being in the lead of the WDC afterwards.

        But Horner didn’t say any of that. Instead he said this:

        “We know what Checo is capable of, we’ve seen in races like Azerbaijan and Saudi already this year what he’s capable of doing, and I’m sure he’ll re-find that form in the future.”

    6. Now the gap between Verstappen and the rest of the field is so large, maybe a whole heap of drivers will stop overdriving to try get get closer to catching him.

      Checo at least has the excuse that he’s in the only car capable of matching him but he’s never been a great qualifier. Leclerc and Russell both have shown great qualifying skills but maybe need to accept they can’t be on pole and just focus on getting the best out of their respective machinery for 2nd or 3rd instead of messing up their qualifying runs by overdoing it.

    7. I take it Red Bull will take the pressure off him as now they’ve pushed him into the dedicated number 2 roll they’ll only allow him to be.

      1. They pushed him into it, huh? Do please expand with concrete examples on exactly how this was done.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          6th June 2023, 22:16

          Didn’t you watch Wile E. Coyote spreading oil in Sainte-Dévote before Perez qualifying crash in Monaco? Coyote had a Red Bull cap

    8. Now the race is on for the “best of the rest” title. Just bragging rights but good ones

    9. Yeah, what a relief!

    10. Checo should be (and probably is) extremely grateful for this incredible turnaround of his career!

      He will probably leave Red Bull at the end of next year with 10-15 race wins under his belt which is 9-14 more than he could have realistically hoped for at the end of 2020.

      Also, having a dominant car that allows you to regularly beat guys like Hamilton, Alonso, and Leclerc is a privilege that not many people have ever had at that particular point of their careers.

      So, no reason to be ashamed of anything! He’s a great driver and will probably have a nice amount of P1s before he retires!

    11. I think Checo should just be pleased (and we should all be impressed) that Max has not destroyed Checo’s career as Max did with most of his other teammates.

    Comments are closed.