Perez knows the title is ‘out of reach barring a disaster for Max’ – Horner

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Sergio Perez knows his championship chances are realistically over this year.

The team’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko said before the race began that Perez had “woken up from his world championship dream.” Following Max Verstappen’s 10th grand prix win of the season yesterday Perez now trails his team mate by 125 points with 284 available.

After the race, Horner said his driver knows his chances of winning the championship this year are extremely slim even with almost half the season left to run.

“We all know that Helmut is fairly straightforward in some of his analysis,” Horner remarked. “I think Checo knows that, barring a disaster for Max, this championship is out of reach.

“So it’s about him maximising his own performance, not losing ground to any of the rivals behind and trying to pick up a few wins between now and the end of the year.”

Perez led Verstappen in the early stages of yesterday’s race before being passed by his team mate. Verstappen went on to beat him by 22 seconds.

Horner said Perez “did a great job on the first lap, overtook Charles bravely around the outside, and had strong pace in the first stint.”

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“But then obviously we need to go through why he comparatively struggled on the medium tyre,” Horner added.

Perez has endured a tough run of races but goes into the summer break having finished on the podium at the last two rounds. He is encouraged to be “getting that form back” as F1 goes into its summer break.

Having the opportunity to run free of traffic has helped Perez understand why he has been struggling more in the RB19 than his team mate, he said.

“Having these sort of races in clean air is where you learn a lot,” Perez explained. “You make those steps in [these] races, because my last few races have been very hard to get a proper read on, because the way you have to race with dirty air, and so on. That to me I think is where we’re going to be learning the most on that stint on free air and the second stint as well.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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35 comments on “Perez knows the title is ‘out of reach barring a disaster for Max’ – Horner”

  1. If he is sane, he is aware of that since late 2020.

  2. The title was out of reach for Perez since 1997 when Max was born.

  3. I don’t understand why Perez is still talking about the title. He never was a title contender before he signed up with Red Bull… and was never a title contender after he signed up for Red Bull. His focus should be purely on finishing where his car is expected to – P2 in the WDC.

  4. Chris Horton
    31st July 2023, 10:09

    Helmut Marko manages to raise his level of dislikeability as consistently as an Alonso lap time.

  5. It’s extremely telling that it’s Horner saying this, who was refused to give Perez any praise when he was performing well, even on par with his teammate, earlier in the year. He never wanted him to challenge his golden boy.

    1. Realistically, Pérez was never going to challenge Verstappen. Ever. Nothing in his career so far points to the level of talent required to beat an absolute top tier driver, such as Hamilton, Alonso and Leclerc.
      You could put Verstappen in either the McLaren or the Mercedes and he would still beat Pérez in the RB19. I’d include the Ferrari but they’re too prone to shooting their drivers in the feet.
      Out of the current drivers, don’t even think Pérez is in the top 10:
      Ricciardo (who might return to his old form when he was with RBR).
      All of the above would beat Pérez over a season in the same car.

      1. I think that’s a fair assessment today, but we’re talking at the end of the most prolonged slump Perez has ever had (at least I hope it’s the end).

        If you’d asked people last year, or this year after the first 4-5 races, most would have taken Perez over Sainz or Albon – and probably (in terms of current performance, rather than potential) over Piastri or Ricciardo.

        Red Bull knew they weren’t hiring a champion, but they thought they had one of the best second drivers on the grid… and last year and for the start of this one, that’s arguably who they had.

      2. I disagree: take the early season perez, there’s no driver who would beat him with a car inferior to red bull since they’re so massively inferior to red bull this year.

        Also, perez’s slump only happened because of verstappen being on the other seat, if he were driving on his own or with a weak driver he’d still be performing well.

  6. Realisicly he has to keep his drive (act) together, or he will be challenged by hamilton and possibly Alonso for 2nd and 3rd in WDC

  7. So the question is why was he still in contention after 5 races but since then the gap has grown massively?

    1. Consistency. That is an element a champion has (to have) under control. People put a lot of wild thoughts into why Max is driving faster (Perez has the same car but it is set up for Max or the opposite Max has a better car or whatever tin foil stuff). The reality is, that it isn’t just about the driving. It’s about everything. It’s the approach to the whole weekend, the ability to build up the sessions, to fine tune the car to specific track conditions. To challenge your team. All this translates into race pace. Max is not ‘just’ being fast. There is much more to why he is so far ahead. All this he keeps up week after week. Maybe Perez can do it at the start of the season when there are more tracks to his likings. The idea of becoming a champion is to be able to do all this all year long.

  8. I honestly think you could put any driver on the grid next to Max in the second RB and they wouldn’t trouble him much the way he’s performing at the moment. Nobody expects Checo to be pushing for the title (and Checo must know that over 20+ races he’s never going to come out on top).

    It shouldn’t take not keeping up with an Alpine and getting into prangs with Lewis to realise that he’s not in the title race.

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      31st July 2023, 13:20

      But I think he could be if the team want it to happen. He might not at the end of the season actually win the thing, but he would be a better driver for it

      As another commentator above states Horner doesn’t want anyone to challenge the golden boy. And this has been going on for years. In 2006 for example one race after winning the Malaysian GP, Giancarlo Fisichella was being growled at for driving too slowly. Something must have happened behind the scenes for him to be so off the pace the next round

      Or how about we go back to 2002. Rubens Barrichello had a shocker of a start to the year retiring a lot from the opening rounds – only one of which was his fault and suffering a DNS. Despite dominating the Austrian GP weekend he wasn’t allowed to win the race, despite the senior management at Ferrari promising they wouldn’t tell him to move over

      If the Number 1 driver is genuinely a once in a generation talent, he wouldn’t need the extra help. Fernando Alonso fought with Ron Dennis in 2007 for not giving him any support in his title fight with Lewis, yet the reason why he ultimately didn’t win was because he crashed in Fuji

  9. On some Mexican social media and F1 news they say that RedBull made Max’s car faster than Checo’s car. To them it’s impossible that Max was 22 seconds ahead of Checo in Spa.

    It is sad actually that people think that.

    1. @jamesbond It’s strange that people think there are 2 different spec in 1 team first that is way to expensive second why would RB do that as they want 1-2 every race.
      Plus a driver can make a lot of time knowing this track and knowing that S2 in Spa is where you make your round times. So even Max have even times in S1 and S3 if he makes 0,7-1 up in that sector alone you get that he just drive away from Perez.

    2. Now that the difference between Verstappen and Perez is so big, people seek answers. I see a lot of conspiracies theories popping up all of the sudden, also on this site. People really are that gullible sometimes.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      31st July 2023, 16:07

      @jamesbond do you guys really believe that Perez is that much slower than Max?

      I don’t think he’s the fastest driver on the grid but he has fared pretty well against a lot of drivers that have also gone against a lot of other drivers.

      We’re also talking about the most controversial team on the grid when it comes to driver treatment when talking about Red Bull. If we had a poll that ranked all the teams in terms of equitable treatment, Red Bull would be at the bottom of the list.

      1. Yes. And he came in second, so the rest was even slower. That has to do with the car, the 22 seconds with the driver.

        1. Good point, realistically it’s not like perez would beat leclerc on a weekend where leclerc maximised the potential of the car, which could be considered 2nd best in the dry in spa: if perez was not catchable for leclerc, he must have a better car. Is red bull THAT much better that their B version allows perez enough margin to beat a top driver on the 2nd best car?

      2. Ferrari is worst, Red Bull still hasn’t told Perez to slow down in the final lap and let Max win, he got his wins fairly.

        And sure you can be 22 seconds slower than your teammate, sometimes it’s machinery, other times it’s driver ability, Prost was 30 seconds behind Senna in Spa 1988, and that’s Prost not Perez.

        Mansell used to put 30 seconds and more on Patrese, Kimi put 30 seconds on Montoya some times, it happens and Perez was never a top driver, if he was, Mclaren would have kept him way back in 2013, Ferrari/Merc/RB would have tried to get him in the 10’s, he only got to Red Bull thanks to being in the right place at the right time and was never hired to challenge Max, he can’t.

      3. The gap on Sunday is simple to explain. After Max passed Checo,

        – Checo knew that 2nd was safe and 1st was out of reach, so he eased off; preserved the car; managed his lap times to keep Leclerc safely behind; and brought the car home safely.

        – Max knew that 1st was safe, so his engineer wanted him to ease off; preserve the car; and manage his lap times. But Max was hungry, so he pushed anyway.

        You see this often in the final third of a race where a driver whose task is to ‘bring the car home’ will normally drive to a lap time… but if they get challenged, they suddenly pull a second a lap out of the bag. What we saw on Sunday was the difference between ‘doing what is needed’ and stretching your legs… with a small sprinkling of skill gap on top.

        To see the difference between the two when they’re both trying, check laps 10, 11 and 12; then Checo 15, 16, 17 vs Max 16, 17, 18 (after the pitstops). Max was 3s behind at the end of lap 9, and 0.4 behind at the end of lap 16, for a difference of 2.6/7 ~ 0.4s each lap.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          31st July 2023, 19:23


          Checo knew that 2nd was safe and 1st was out of reach, so he eased off; preserved the car; managed his lap times to keep Leclerc safely behind; and brought the car home safely.

          I don’t understand that logic. What kind of driver backs off when your seat is clearly in danger (2 drivers that they might want to give a chance) and you don’t want to appear like a turtle?

          I actually expect Checo to be fighting for every millisecond.

          1. Mark from Toronto
            31st July 2023, 19:32

            The team is not stupid, they ask Checo to cruise he does. They have every tiny bit of data logged they know even more then Checo what exactly he is capable off. They knew Lewis would prob go for fastest lap, that’s why they told max not to. He took additional risk for nothing. Checo’s job after being passes was to deliver the 1-2. Maybe fewer penalties may offer another opportunity for a win in the 2nd half.

          2. That’s also very easy to understand: When Checo fights for every millisecond, he makes mistakes, as vastly demonstrated by himself for the previous 5 or 6 races. The RB is so good that Checo can ease off and still come 2nd comfortably.

            The conspiracy theories here are always laughable, and this is nothing new. Jingoistic people can’t accept their countrymen F1 driver is really that slow when compared to a proper tier driver.

            *I’m Mexican.

          3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            2nd August 2023, 14:36

            That’s also very easy to understand: When Checo fights for every millisecond, he makes mistakes, as vastly demonstrated by himself for the previous 5 or 6 races. The RB is so good that Checo can ease off and still come 2nd comfortably

            Most of us have been watching Perez for a while and he’s quite comfortable racing. I’m not a fan of his but I also realize that he wouldn’t have such a long career and drive a Red Bull if he was a F3 average driver.

            Your point is that he may make a mistake in the Red Bull and that’s usually when you exceed the limits of the car. If Verstappen’s car limits are higher, then Checo will make a mistake as he tries to cover a 1 second gap that the car is not capable of, as would any driver in that situation.

            The conspiracy theories here are always laughable, and this is nothing new. Jingoistic people can’t accept their countrymen F1 driver is really that slow when compared to a proper tier driver.

            What’s laughable is not examining the gap. Even Brundle who is arguably a supporter of Max does not understand how Max’s car is capable of such quick acceleration and higher grip than other cars and this weekend over Checo’s.

            The team’s radio is also suspicious as it’s almost highlighting the difference in the cars and reminds us of the Incredibles where the dad tells his son to slow down in the school race. Red Bull’s radio could be construed as “please stay close to Checo so they don’t suspect foul play” and then Max cheekishly replies “why don’t I just build a free pit stop since my car can do that?” and the reply is a very cold “don’t even think about it” from Red Bull.

      4. Don’t believe that for a second. Ferrari, Mercedes (Valtteri, it’s James) are notorious for it. Part of the game when you have teams run two cars. Why canabalise when you are in competition? Wouldn’t make sense at all I agree it doesn’t provide good racing for the audience though, but you can’t blame the team. It’s a regulatory challenge.

  10. Electroball76
    31st July 2023, 22:43

    Perez is in a similar ballpark to Dan Ric and Webber as a no.2 driver at Red Bull. They’ll take both trophies and and stick another page in the record books. That’s more than good enough. Why would they rock the boat? Oh wait.. this is Red Bull

  11. The best possible role for Checo is being Max’s dog, attack rival teams when Max needs it, otherwise no use.

  12. I wouldn’t put my money on Perez for the title, even if Max met with “disaster”. The guy is an absolute joke.

    1. Right now verstappen could have a schumacher-silverstone 1999 type of accident, stay away 6 races and win the title anyway (perez wouldn’t win all races verstappen isn’t there for and even if he did it wouldn’t be enough to keep verstappen behind on points after), I’m just not sure, since there’s more races, that he wouldn’t miss a lot more than 6, but even then I wouldn’t be surprised if perez lost it.

      However as the situation looks I doubt anyone else will beat perez in points overall.

  13. Number two in Horner’s current job description must be ‘damage limitation from Helmut Marko’s public putdowns of second driver’ – with a blank space for their name. (Number one is obviously ‘whatever Max wants, provide it’).
    Interesting to observe Marko’s remarkable Formula 1 career:
    Championships 0
    Wins 0
    Podiums 0
    Career points 0
    Pole positions 0
    Fastest laps 0
    Obviously he knows what he’s talking about when he’s dishing out the rebukes.

    1. He’d been in Formula One less than a year when he was blinded in an accident – a bit unfair to pick on him for that, isn’t it?

      Especially as that one year was still enough for him to win Le Mans.

      I often disagree with Marko, but he clearly has more racing experience (and racing achievements) than any of us keyboard warriors.

      1. @smallvizier Apology due, I must have missed that bit of his bio. Still doesn’t make his treatment of drivers supposedly under his wing any more pleasant or productive. Drivers like Gasly and Albon have a talent that was badly nurtured by the Red Bull team at critical moments.

        1. Yeah, I agree he’s had a lot of talented drivers under his wing, and most don’t seem to have flourished there

    2. Ahah, fun about horner’s contract! And I think marko is an interesting character, he’s very harsh because he doesn’t want a midfield driver, he wants to find top drivers.

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