Perez is ‘doing his job and will be our driver in 2024’, Horner insists

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted Sergio Perez’s performances this year meet the team’s expectations and dismissed claims he could be replaced next season.

Perez signed a two-year deal to remain at Red Bull last season. While he has won two grands prix this year, team mate Max Verstappen has won the other 11. While Verstappen is dominating the championship, Perez has repeatedly failed to reach top the final 10 in qualifying and finish on the podium.

Red Bull has a reputation for not tolerating underperformance by its drivers. In 2019 Pierre Gasly was shown the door just 12 races into his first season with the team. Three years earlier Daniil Kvyat was dropped for Verstappen four races into his second season at Red Bull.

The team’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko recently made comments suggesting Perez’s place at the team next year was in doubt. But following last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, Horner insisted they are satisfied with Perez’s performances and won’t replace him before 2025.

“Checo’s situation for next year is clear,” said Horner. “He’s a Red Bull Racing driver. We have an agreement with him.

“Irrelevant of agreements, we’re pleased with the job that he’s doing.”

Perez qualified 1.3 seconds slower than Verstappen at Zandvoort, which left him six places behind his pole-winning team mate on the grid. A well-judged call to switch to intermediates when rain hit on lap one put Perez in the lead by 13 seconds at one stage. But Verstappen easily caught and moved ahead of him and Perez finished fourth after spinning during another rain shower and collecting a penalty for speeding in the pits.

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“You saw his drive today,” Horner continued. “He was unlucky with a pit lane speed limit.

“He’s second in the world championship. He’s the only driver other than Max to have won grands prix this year. It’s easy to beat up on him when the barometer is so high on the other side. But he will be our driver in 2024.”

“If Max wasn’t there, Checo would have won another four or five races,” Horner added. “So he’s doing his job.

“He’s second in the world championship. You saw his performance today. He was unlucky to get the speeding [penalty] and hopefully he can add to his wins before the end of the year.”

Horner claimed Perez’s performances only appear sub-par because his team mate has set such a high benchmark.

“I think that Max is in a period of his career where he’s just simply untouchable,” said Horner. “I don’t think there’s any driver on the grid that would be able to achieve what he’s been doing in that car.

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“Being his team mate is probably, in some respects, the most [un]enviable job to have because the barometer is so high.

“Checo’s pace actually in the race was strong again. We saw drivers miss the cut completely [in qualifying], not even make Q3 when you would’ve expected them to. So it’s very, very difficult and I think what we’re witnessing at the moment is a driver that is generational.”

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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...
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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43 comments on “Perez is ‘doing his job and will be our driver in 2024’, Horner insists”

  1. Well Perez is doing better than in 2022 (largely helped by the car).

    13 races into 2022 Perez had 1 win, 6 podiums and scored points 10 times for a total of 173 points
    13 races into 2023 Perez has 2 wins, 7 podiums and scored points 12 times for a total of 201 points

    Given that Max improved much more from 2022 to 2023 with 3 more wins, 3 more podiums, 2 more points races and 81 more points, Sergio absolutely should have done much better given that Ferrari fell back in performance and Red Bull made a step forward.

    The question is who would replace Perez in 2024? Liam or Yuki not, Daniel maybe but still unknown how he stacks up and Norris like most other quality drivers are tied up for 2024.

    So not that bad to stick with what you have & know for 2024 and then look what is the best option for 2025. Ideally for Red Bull that would be Yuki, Liam or Daniel or else outside their own pool with front runner Norris is McLaren is not making the next step forward in performance and results.

    1. Given that Max improved much more from 2022 to 2023 with 3 more wins, 3 more podiums, 2 more points races and 81 more points, Sergio absolutely should have done much better given that Ferrari fell back in performance and Red Bull made a step forward.

      I think both Perez and Verstappen would have better figures for 2022 if the car hadn’t failed. So, as you say, RBR made a step forward.
      Two DNFs for MV and one for SP in the first few races handed buckets of points to Ferrari.

      That’s a car improvement.

  2. Yup, his days are numbered…

  3. Unsurprising in some ways. The team knows what they can and can’t expect from Perez. Putting in a new driver wouldn’t make a lot of sense unless it’s a top rated driver like Norris or LeClerc and I guess they have learned their lessons about burning up their own talents by giving them a premature seat in the Red Bull (like Gasly and Albon ao). Maybe if Ricciardo could have shown he was still up for it – he would have been a candidate – but unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is time enough for him to proof that.

    1. Yeah, since Perez got back to a decent pace now and at the same time Daniel won’t be back up to speed before the end of the year, there is no reason to throw Perez out.

      If the car doesn’t suddenly develops any issues, the team will still be the top dog and have a car that Verstappen can use to win the titles, even if the likes of McLaren and Mercedes are able to build on the decent car they have now, AM can claw back some pace and Ferrari finds how to run their car, Red Bull just needs a reliable hand whose not too far behind Verstappen.

  4. “we don’t have anyone else to throw at the other car at the moment so we’ll just have to stick with him”

  5. Just like Nyck de Vries?

    1. Different cases & somewhat apples to oranges comparison.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th August 2023, 12:40

        No harm in apples to oranges comparisons if your decision making is about cocktails or fruit deserts.
        Meaning there’s a lot of ingredients to consider for Red Bull, for this year, for next, and beyond, and Perez pressure management is just one of them.
        But Perez still in the Red Bull next year? Very doubtful.

        1. @Coventry Climax Perez in the Red Bull next year is not very doubtful. I think him getting a contract after this one is very doubtful. He is a good enough #2 (at this level of Red Bull dominance) but I’m sure Albon or Ricciardo wouldn’t mind another try in the Red Bull.

  6. In the end, they’re going to win the WDC and the Constructors’ Championship.

    If Perez’s performance meant they might not win the latter, I think he’d be dog food.

    1. If Perez’s performance meant they might not win the (WCC), I think he’d be dog food.

      But is the current level of Perezformance good enough to get both trophies in 2024? If other teams with two strong drivers close the gap, I’d still put my money on Verstappen for WDC, but it might be more difficult to guarantee the WCC.
      Or what to do when other teams can attack Verstappen with two well placed cars, and Perez is not close enough to defend against both those cars and a split strategy?
      And what position do you settle for in a race when the number 1 driver has a DNF?

      1. Facts&Stats, Red Bull have stated in the past that their primary interest is in the WDC, as their marketing strategy revolves around building up the brand value for their lead driver to then capitalise on that in their own marketing materials and for brokering deals with third parties.

        Marko has also said that, quite bluntly, they don’t want their “supporting driver” to be too close in performance to Max, because that would then create too much conflict within the team. Their preferred candidate is one who collects some points and can occasionally win something, but is not going to be a threat to Max – and if that means giving up the WCC to win the WDC, they’ll happily take it.

  7. Yes, he’ll most certainly get to see out his contract length, save for more exceptional circumstances.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      30th August 2023, 11:02

      that of course you can state of every driver :P

  8. I love how people are surprised about Perez’s form as if the writing wasn’t on the wall last year.
    You’re telling me with all the ways Ferrari found to lose in 22 and Perez having car advantage, Leclerc and Perez were on equal points going into the final race?

    At least Webber in Vettel’s 9 win streak finished on the podium If the car did not break down on him.

    1. I love how people are surprised about Perez’s form as if the writing wasn’t on the wall last year.

      For the same time period 2022 and 2023,counting top four finishes (the car is capable of that or better) note that there was a car fault DNF in the 2022 period:

      6 x 2nd
      1 x 1st
      3 x 4th

      3 x 2nd
      2 x 1st
      2 x 3rd
      2 x 4th

      Marginal improvement. Max had two car-related DNF, again marginal improvement from 2022 to 2023.

  9. “If Max wasn’t there, Checo would have won another four or five races,” Horner added.

    Weird statement by Horner as he knows Perez only had three second places behind Verstappen so far this year.
    Thus is he saying that Perez has sacrificed himself during some races to let Verstappen win, or, as many suggested, the car has been so developed to an extreme Verstappen preference, that Perez is slowing down considerably in the same car.

    1. I wouldn’t say it was Perez sacrificing himself as the team does most of it for him. Directly, via team politics; and indirectly, via car design.
      The majority of Perez’s own driving errors can be directly attributed to either one, or both, of the above conditions.

    2. Well, it seems obvious as well that he wouldn’t have had such a bad slump as he had, you know the never making q3 streak for example, if he hadn’t had the championship pressure against verstappen.

  10. Coventry Climax
    30th August 2023, 11:46

    In Perez’ case especially, it makes a lot of sense to take away pressure. Horner has tried that before, but it doesn’t work with Perez.

    Given how bad he’s doing, and sliding down more than making any overall progress, he’s out of a seat next year.
    “Who to replace him with?” is the question most often heard, but that question is quite irrelevant when the answer is that almost anyone is faster and/or holds the promise of at least improving.

    1. Who would be faster that is currently available? Mick? A rookie would be a huge gamble – with Perez they know what they get. I’d love to see Yuki drive the Red Bull – I think he would have some good maybe even great races – but he would probably not be very consistent and I am not sure how he would deal with the pressure of being in a top team.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th August 2023, 17:39

        Mick? You must be joking, right? Or a big fan of mince meat?

        Yep, with Perez they know what they get: Nothing.

        Let’s wait and see how the Lawson and Ricciardo situation develops, shall we? And then maybe even Tsunoda is in the mix.

        1. If they get nothing with perez, schumacher is worth a gamble, since he seemed to be magnussen level by the end of the season.

          1. Coventry Climax
            31st August 2023, 11:05

            If you interpret ‘anything is better than Perez’ very literal, then yes, that means even Schumacher would qualify for that.
            To be worth a gamble though, there must be an element of ‘unknown’ and ‘possible promise’ to it. And that’s where Schumacher fully disqualifies. Been around too long for that, shown no real promise – in any of the classes he raced. He’s like Stroll; in the situation to get to to practice without the limitation others experience and therefor reaching a certain level of mediocracy, without ever showing any promise of anything beyond.

        2. But ofc red bull would first try out an unproven driver in alpha tauri.

        3. Well actually, to be honest I would be curious to see what Mick could do in the Red Bull (or the Merc). I always wonder why people are so negative about him. Of course he isn’t an option, but would he really be so much worse than Perez currently is? Or Stroll?

          Perez is not giving them nothing.. I agree that the gap in performance with Verstappen is hurting the eyes from time to time. But in the tradition of second drivers he isn’t too bad. His only problem is he hasn’t conceded to that number two role yet and might throw in his own windows (if he hasn’t already done so in Zandvoort).

          1. Coventry Climax
            31st August 2023, 11:09

            Maybe those that you declare negative, are actually merely realistic and have no need to wonder, as they have followed Mick’s ‘achievements‘ over the years?

      2. Lando is still on Helmuts wishlist so strange things can happen.

  11. Who knows if Chico will really keep that seat next year, but pretty much everything Horner says is true. The bottom line is that he has a comfortable grip on #2 in the driver’s standings, and Red Bull would hardly want him to be doing any better than that. A relatively easy 1-2 in both championships, without ruffling their golden boy’s feathers, is pretty much a perfect scenario for RB.

    1. Until the other teams make a fairly competitive car, then you don’t want such a low level second driver.

      You see, bottas was also doing a respectable number 2 job at merc, better than perez, but when the prospect of russell came up and they knew their car was no longer dominant, they replaced him.

  12. Conspiracy theory….in light of dwindling numbers in the U.S., Liberty will pressure RB to put someone in the other car that will challenge Max, the way Rosberg challenged Hamilton.

    1. Far more of a concern for the viewers, is that ‘driving with stabilisers’ that we now seem to always have to have, whenever there’s a puddle on the circuit.

  13. It all started after Baku. Already in Miami Sergio couldn’t keep up with Max anymore. Yeah it’s conspiracy theory. Guys don’t make me angry, you don’t need this, I don’t care how but just take him out of the way, I can win everything on my own. And it works, no? They brought Ricciardo to calm down Perez. Listen Checo we like you but this is the maximum you can expect, you understand, Max is the man, we saved your career, if you want more you’re free to go elsewhere and we’ll see what you can get without us.

    1. Pérez has had a few stand-out performances, but it’s been mediocre throughout. That didn’t start this year, and is not a huge surprise; Red Bull knew what they were getting, and it’s what they’ve got. That’s what Pérez has always done throughout his career. He had a few good races each year, but wasn’t getting any serious interest from top teams.

      Red Bull might want someone better, but they also don’t want anyone to go head to head with Verstappen. So to find someone in that narrow range is hard. Ricciardo was probably perfect for that role, but he had no interest in it (and seems to have subsequently lost that performance too).

      1. Pérez has had a few stand-out performances, but it’s been mediocre throughout.

        If Perez is “mediocre” as you say, and still has a clear points gap over Alonso and Hamilton, then the phrase “it’s the car” has to be the answer for any and all comments about how good Max is.

  14. Perez is a big disappointment.

    Nobody ever expected him to challenge Max, but he looks like a rookie. So many silly mistakes.

    He being so bad and still likely to finish 2nd highlights how great that car is even more than had he being doing a good job.

    1. His relationship with the team is probably pretty bad, even if he says its fine. They are using him for sponsor money, and are just saying what they need to say. After how Max’s family reacted after the drama earlier on, and how unprofessional things got, its easy to see how ‘unfair’ or potentially abusive/toxic the whole bargain is. Checo is f***ed, he knows he doesn’t hold favor on the team, and the team has ‘biases’ anyways, which have been talked about, by other drivers. So its not really that surprising hes languishing as the team wants to just move on, and not burn themselves out.

  15. I am not one to usually speak up for Horner but maybe he is trying to take some pressure off of Perez. He knows Checo has been disappointing but it’s far from clear cut who could replace him and do better. I mean from drivers currently in the Red Bull stable.

    Maybe Horner would rather Perez continues but fears that the pressure on him is damaging and a distraction. Then Red Bull could find themselves having to get someone to replace him who they think is no better really.

  16. No, please no! He is a disgrace. We need a champion in that other car.

    1. No, please no! He is a disgrace. We need a champion in that other car.

      There is a choice of two. Neither one is likely to say yes to an offer of “be #2 to Max as #1”

    2. Alan S Thomson
      31st August 2023, 18:02

      Your opinion is noted. and it shall be ignored.

  17. astonished (@)
    31st August 2023, 14:31

    We don’t know Checo’s job description. He might very well be fulfilling it at full satisfaction of his employer.

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