Perez answered critics in Hungary but needs to qualify better – Horner

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner heaped praise on Sergio Perez after his drive from ninth to third in the Hungarian Grand Prix, but acknowledged he must improve his qualifying performances.

Perez ended a five-race run of failing to reach Q3 at the Hungaroring. However he qualified almost half a second slower than team mate Max Verstappen and only lined up ninth on the grid.

From there he climbed through the field to finish third. Afterwards Horner said Perez had produced “a really strong drive” at the Hungaroring.

“He got his elbows out, he had great pace, [did] moves on Fernando [Alonso], on Carlos Sainz, on Oscar [Piastri], on George Russell. There was some phenomenal racing.

“To get onto the podium, he was hunting Lando [Norris] down towards the end of the race there. Really [well] deserved from him, so really, really proud of his performance today.”

Over the previous five grands prix Perez had only taken one podium finish and lost significant ground to Verstappen in the drivers’ championship. Horner believes he “will take a lot of confidence” from the result after “facing a bit of criticism” for his performance.

“It was super-hard racing today and I thought he did his talking on the circuit today, which is always great to see.”

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Perez had started his weekend at the Hungaroring in the worst way possible by crashing in the first practice session, so to make the podium “was the best payback he could give his mechanics and team”, reckoned Horner.

Race start, Hungaroring, 2023
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“The problem is you guys [the media] wind things up and you can go from hero to zero in this business pretty quickly. He’s not immune to that. And I think he responded in the best possible way and did his talking on the circuit and delivered a great performance.

“Formula 1’s a pressure business, he knows that. He’s been around long enough to know the pressures there are in F1 and at Red Bull sometimes that’s even more heightened. But he’s responded in the best possible way, and I think he’ll be more than happy with his drive.”

However Horner acknowledged Perez had fallen short in qualifying in recent races. Last weekend was only the fifth time he has reached Q3 in 11 events this year in a car which remains undefeated in race trim.

“He needs to put more emphasis on Saturday because that’s the bit that’s missing,” said Horner. “Once he gets that nailed – he was in Q3 this weekend, I think I’ll take confidence from that.

“As soon as he starts qualifying in the first couple of rows then you’re back in business.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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16 comments on “Perez answered critics in Hungary but needs to qualify better – Horner”

  1. With the rain and wet/cold at Spa it will be hard for him to get to Q3.

  2. A bit rich from Horner to put blame on “the media” when they were mostly just reporting noises from Horner himself and Helmut Marko about worries over Perez’ performance really.

    I guess we’ll see whether Perez got through his crisis of confidence when he has to qualify on a wet Spa this weekend.

    1. I mussed have missed all of these, because all I’ve been seeing is Horner making excuses and offering words of encouragement for Sergio after getting asked for the umpteenth time to comment on Perez’ lack of performance.

      I guess we just read different sources.

      1. must*

        Just give me an edit button already @keithcollantine

      2. I agree. Horner, at least, has been very kind to Checo in the press. This has stood out to me, because it’s incredibly out of character for RBR: They generally take their second driver to task, publicly, for the slightest problem, yet with Perez they’ve been making the sort of soothing noises they normally make for their lead driver.

  3. Personally, I don’t think this one performance answers the critics. I suspect (and hope) he’s on his way back to form, but we will need to see a few more Q3 appearances, preferably higher starts on the grid, and consistent podium (really 2nd place) finishes. At the moment, it’s only a “maybe”.

  4. Coventry Climax
    26th July 2023, 16:31

    I especially liked his first answer to the critics: crashing within just about the first lap at some speed.

    I don’t get why he is constantly praised for recovery races when he simply shouldn’t be recovering at all.
    There’s some sort of short circuit in that guys head that makes him unfit for F1. After all these years, it’s still not improved. Grosjean was next level fruitcake maybe, but basically similarly unfit.

    1. There’s some sort of short circuit in that guys head that makes him unfit for F1.

      It wasn’t me!

  5. Answered the critics? How exactly?

  6. How did finishing 3rd to a McLaren answer Perez’s critics, when his team mate took it easy and was still 33 seconds ahead?

    1. Yes, unimpressive, he was closer to verstappen early season.

      Where’s the perez that after verstappen recovered a few places (as he was starting behind) maintained the 5 sec margin he had the whole race?

  7. Shut up Horner, and sign Alonso. He’s sounding a bit disgruntled with his Jordan.

  8. Exactly, he has been performing very well in the last few races but lacking in the qualifying. If he starts the race at the front alongside Max, we may see great competition in the race between these two Red Bull drivers.

    1. I’m not sure I would put it that way.

      The RBR doesn’t generally have a massive advantage in Qualifying. Over a single lap, it’s slightly ahead of the pack but not massively. It’s in the race that the car comes alive, being able to both slice through the field and pull out a healthy margin in clean air.

      So, to me, it’s not that Perez is performing better in the race, but that the car works better in the race and this elevates Perez. In qualifying, where the car is much closer to the rest of the field, it’s showing a more accurate picture of Perez’ pace.

      This is, of course, only my opinion.

  9. Robert Henning
    27th July 2023, 14:29

    The car had half a second pace advantage over any other car on the grid in race trim.

    The fact that he couldn’t even finish 2nd, and often was upto 1s slower than Max in the last stint is not a good sign of things even if he was in traffic.

    Let us not forget that Max won from P10 in a car that was way less dominant and on par with Mercs/Ferrari at the same track last year.

  10. The big issue is tyres .. all the way through the field, and they’re creating results that are leading people to blame drivers, cars, strategies, etc.
    Perez has always been known as as a ‘tyre whisperer’ capable of making tyres last much longer, but because he’s more gentle on them, he also struggles to turn these 2023 Pirelli’s on for one lap qualifying as easily as some of the other drivers.
    We see it with cars too.
    Ferrari and Haas especially are able to qualify far better than they race. They’e getting the tyres up to temp quickly, but come race day & they’re wearing them out faster than other teams.
    We’ve seen Mercedes struggle with their tyres based on ambient temperature. The hot day pace is completely different to their cold day pace. That’s been evident at events where there have been big changes from session to session on the same day.
    The tyres are influencing the performance too much in 2023.
    As a control supplier, they should just be there making minimal difference from one team to the next, but that’s definitely not happening.

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