Red Bull ‘desperately need Perez to find his form’ – Horner

Formula 1

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Sergio Perez must raise his performance level over the final five races of the season, says Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Over the past three rounds, including this weekend’s sprint race, Perez has scored just five points. His team mate Max Verstappen clinched the world championship on Saturday and has a 209-point lead over Perez in the standings.

Horner is growing concerned Perez could lose the runner-up spot in the championship to Lewis Hamilton, who is 30 points behind him.

“I think we really need to sit down with Checo because we know what he’s capable of and he’s not hitting that form at the moment,” said Horner. “We desperately need him to find that form to keep this second place in the championship.”

Perez qualified eighth for the sprint race on Saturday but crashed out while trying to pass Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg into turn two. Repairs to his car meant he started the grand prix from the pit lane. He picked up three penalties for track limits infringements on his way to 10th place.

“It was frustrating that he’s only come out of the weekend with one point,” Horner admitted. “Even starting from the back of the grid, I think there was an opportunity to score heavily today or decently.

“We’ll support him as much as we can because there’s a triple-header coming up, there’s a huge amount of points with sprint races as well.”

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Perez’s fans are often out in force in the coming round at Austin, after which he will compete in his home race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“He’s going to have a lot of support the next two races or next three races really, in Latin America and in the US, and his home race in Mexico City,” said Horner. “Hopefully that will help him find the form and and the confidence that he seems to have lost a little at the moment.”

With the final five race weekends taking place in the space of six weeks, Horner says it is important Red Bull help Perez halt his recent slump in form.

“I think when you get into a bit of a spiral like that, the two things become intertwined. And I think you just need to sometimes sort of take your foot, put it on the floor, stop the merry-go-round and just go back to basics. And that’s what we’ll do.

“We all know what Checo is capable of and we want to support him to get back into a position where even as as near ago as Monza he was finishing in second place to Max.”

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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...
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51 comments on “Red Bull ‘desperately need Perez to find his form’ – Horner”

  1. In the first 14 races Red Bull was always the top scorer of the teams – in total view McLaren has outscored Red Bull over the last 3 races and Ferrari almost done so:
    * Red Bull 74 points (Max 69 and Perez 5)
    * McLaren 104 points (Norris 57 and Piastri 47)
    * Ferrari 67 points (Leclerc 34 and Sainz 33)

    Above numbers should have Red Bull very worried for 2024 constructor championship.

    1. Well put. The salt in the wound for Red Bull is that they have no expectation for Ricciardo, Tsunoda, or Lawson to do any better. They really needed Ricciardo to perform well in the AT these last races. Even if Perez does find his form in the remaining races it’s not going to be enough to restore confidence in him.

  2. “I think we really need to sit down with Checo …
    The first part of the first sentence is the most worrying part in this. What do you mean you think you need to sit down with Checo? I hope that this is all just media speak because as a manager you should have sat down with Checo after Miami and actually most races after that…

    1. There must be a financial incentive behind all of this. There is hardly any other reason to have been very hard on drivers in the past and now be so lenient towards Checo. The only other thing I can think of is lack of alternative. You can’t put a youngster or talent next to Max. You either get them stumbling over each other or the new one gets burned the Albon/Gasly way (which is a pity since they are not so bad drivers after all). Put Norris in and the friendship between the two will get ruined and you will also end up in fights within the team. Unless Norris settles for getting race wins (since he hasn’t got them yet) and accepts he can’t achieve WDC’s or luck into one). So the only option is a Bottas concept. A loyal dog with no ambition. Checo is one but doesn’t deliver. Ricciardo could be that one but is a big uncertainty which they wanted to test but ever since the Dutch GP haven’t been able to. Then there is Hulkenberg that could fit the bill but has too much of a Checo level I am afraid. Magnussen is a liability too. Alonso will make the politics blow up internally and destroy team spirit (we haven’t forgotten what he is like when things don’t go his way).

  3. I think the odds on Perez being replaced for next season have shortened considerably. The way Horner speaks here reminds me of the way he spoke about Albon when he was struggling in mid-2020. Alex did pick up his performances towards the end of the year, but it wasn’t enough to prevent him being replaced.

    1. Yeah it’s probably too late already for Perez, this is the kind of talking that usually sets thing in motion for the driver replacement. it’s a matter of “will they do it comes the first 2024 race, or will they wait for halfway in the season?”

    2. Honestly with albon, it was too little, too late, he had a decent race in abu dhabi, that’s basically it, put yourself in horner’s shoes, do you really trust a driver to perform if he can have a good race every 10 or something like it? I wouldn’t, and especially being on a top team, it was a no brainer imo.

    3. Yeah, well the problem is who would they bring as a replacement… There are new “hot” talents (Lawson is not that at all…), Ricciardo is a gamble (with low odds), McLaren drivers are hard to get for the next season. Perhaps if Alonso got irritated and shoved Stroll Junior or something and got kicked out. I don’t think they would be brave enough to bring in such a nuclear bomb, but he’d surely do better than Perez and they would get another couple of years to find a new talent worth investing in. We all know Perez isn’t this bad though, but he’s mentally weak and he always cracks after initial decent start to the season. If they can’t work with him on that (therapy sessions, team building, different approach with him…), or they tried it all and failed, then he is a waste of time in any case. But if they just bring Ricciardo in and the gamble doesn’t pay off (and it’s more likely that it won’t), then they look like aimless amateurs in this department. It’s still safer to keep Perez, as long as he can at least keep this second place and get near the podium in the fastest car on the grid. Huh I can’t believe how bad he is right now…

      1. There are no new “hot” talents*, obvious typo, but can’t edit it… Sorry.

    4. I think the big clue on Perez’s job security was them putting Ricciardo in the AT. If he’d not got injured and had even done the job Lawson has largely done whilst Perez has performed like he has, i suspect the imminent sit down with Checo would be including handing him his P45 and wishing him all the best for the future.

      DR’s injury certainly has bought him time (And arguably so has Lawson’s showings, given he’s made Yukis total demolition of De Vries look more like De Vries just being that bad, and Ricciardos 2 full outings, 1 good, 1 ‘meh’), inconclusive enough that they really need to see more from him before canning Checo.

      All we can safely garner is Checo’s seat is at real risk, they’re monitoring the options and Yuki isn’t in the running for it regardless, given Ricciardo and Lawson have stepped into the car he’s raced and tested from day 1 and without testing, immediately shown it wasn’t him suddenly being exceptional, driving the wheels off the car causing the deficit between him and Nyck, and they could match or better him almost right away where De Vries couldn’t get near.

  4. What do you mean? It was world champion performance by Perez, as he himself said before the weekend.

  5. Honestly, I don’t think he’s going to stop the merry-go-round unless he starts fresh next year if he’s still in the team. He just needs to understand or realize he’s not going to win many GPs and just focus on bringing the car safely home, like he used to do at Force India.

  6. Perez has found his form. That’s the problem.

  7. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    9th October 2023, 9:05

    I’m guessing red bull have no replacements lined up otherwise he would have been dropped already.

  8. Electroball76
    9th October 2023, 9:41

    They need a skilled team player who is used to disappointment, like Charles Leclerc.

    1. @Electroball76
      That one hurt…

  9. Put Lawson in the car.
    I don’t care about contracts with other teams and stuff.
    Get out your chequebook and put Lawson in that damned car!

    1. The cold truth is tsunoda is outperforming (sometimes slightly) everyone who’s been matched against him in the alpha tauri this year: de vries, ricciardo, lawson, so I can’t justify a promotion for anyone but tsunoda; I think if they really want to replace perez atm they have to fish outside their own drivers, there were norris rumors for example, something like that.

    2. Not saying I think tsunoda is good enough for red bull, just saying the other 3 didn’t do any better.

      1. Not sure I agree. Tsunoda barely outperformed Ricciardo and Lawson and you can’t really expect anyhting less from him. He did outperform de Vries ofcourse but that seems to be more down to Nyck underperforming than to Tsunoda switching to a much higher gear. To me it seems like keeping Tsunoda for 2024 is not down to his performances as it seems clear that Ricciardo and Lawson do seem to have a potential to perform at a Red Bull level. Tsunoda has not really shown that level in the 2.5 years he has spent at AT so far. I am still bummed that they won’t ditch him for Lawson next season.

    3. Lawson is good enough to be a second driver in Torro… Whatever their name will be next season. He didn’t show he’s good enough for Red Bull. Neither is Perez it seems, but I still don’t understand this hype with Lawson, it doesn’t seem to be based on his driving as much as other things, whatever they are. He wasn’t the best in F2 (he wasn’t among the very best even), he did great in Japan (but he wasn’t the best there either, second best as far as I know), and he doesn’t seem faster than Tsunoda (sure, he needs more time, but he didn’t just come and conquer right away or something, Tsunoda is obviously faster, albeit with unfair advantage of being there longer). He did fine, but no better than many replacement drivers did in the recent past (like Hulkenberg for example). I can imagine Perez explaining the situation with something like: “That’s because he’s not Mexican”.

  10. Have to say that since verstappen mathematically won the title after the sprint I thought perez with pressure off would’ve performed better, but you could see it took him 4 laps to overtake zhou and so on, so the problems didn’t get fixed by him losing the title.

    I thought about that since he was doing fine before he started considering himself a title contender.

  11. Some really worrying phrasing from Horner there. Second place in the drivers’ championship means nothing to them, and given that everything else is wrapped up, I wonder if they would really throw him out before 2024.

    1. Actually that could be a good strategy. They can experiment for second seat in these 5 races to come.

    2. He should have wrapped 2nd place long ago and not be a meager 30 points ahead of Hamilton.
      2 wins (Verstappen 14)
      4 2nd (2)
      2 3rd (0)
      7 points (1)
      2 DNF/zero pointers (0)
      8/17 times not in Q3 (2)

      He is very lucky the 2nd best team isn’t always the same, so he probably gets away with it.

    3. Second place in the drivers’ championship means nothing to them

      I think it would mean something to the team to get 1-2 in the WDC. However, even in the current circumstances, Perez is perilously close to getting knocked down to 3rd. In fact, he could now be tied on points had Lewis not binned it*.

      I think this is basically a warning that, if he doesn’t at least manage to bring home 2nd, he’s gone.

      * If Hamilton hand’t crashed, there was a decent chance he could have taken 2nd place in the race. All else being equal, Perez would have taken no points then which would have left Hamilton only 1 point behind. If he’d managed to sneak the fastest lap, they’d be tied, though I think Perez would have retained 2nd on count back. I know this was a highly unlikely scenario, but it was an outside possibility. For a driver in what is clearly the fastest car on track to be overtaken by a driver who likely has had the third best car at best all season, who hasn’t won a single race, would be damning indeed. Even for him to be this close does not look good for him…

  12. Perez will see out this year. Firing him before Mexico or even Brazil would get the RB team death threats, even if they did prolong his career with three seasons. The South American armada doesn’t like critical thinking about their driver as seen on their Twitter responses to anyone doing so.

    For 2024… what do we expect from Perez after three RB years? He suddenly is up to the task? RB needs a better 2nd driver to fend of Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren who have better pairings. Verstappen can’t do it alone.

    1. Mexico is North America, not even Central let alone “South”.

  13. Sack him and end his misery!

  14. You have to wonder why RB is only “desperately need him to find his form” now. If they didn’t care when his performance suddenly inexplicably dropped earlier in the year when he was within reach of Vestappen then I can’t see why they’d honestly care now.

    1. Hamilton is closing in. Mercedes’ imitation of Ferrari’s silly Monza 2018 race has given them some respite, but with so many races still to go and Pérez still messing about with the midfield in the best car by far, that gap could disappear quite rapidly.

  15. I’m a Perez fan and have long hoped for him to perform well. But since Miami his performances have been dismal and embarrassing, even for a Perez fan. I think Horner has decided his time at Red Bull is done. I wouldn’t give him a seat for ’24.

    Prediction: Perez is sacked during the winter. Ricciardo is given his old seat back at Red Bull. Lawson gets a seat at Alpha Tauri. Ricciardo similarly does not perform too well in Red Bull (but better than Perez).

    1. To be honest, I think this scenario all sounds quite likely.

    2. Me too, a Perez fan. Especially his heroics towards the end of 2020 when he had lost his Force India seat. That was stuff of legends. Movie-type stuff in real life.

      He did well in 2021 and a bit in 2022 too. But this season has been horrible. Even Massa was a better #2 to Alonso than this.

    3. I don’t agree. As long as Max keeps winning the constructors championship on his own, the team won’t care whether the second car scores points or not. Max will want to keep Perez for the same reason Lewis wanted to keep Bottas, and what Max wants, Max gets. Ricciardo is even more of a liability than Perez because he can’t be trusted not to leave in a hissy fit when he gets beat.
      My prediction: Perez will stay at RBR for 2024 because the car is still so far ahead of the opposition they won’t care if the #2 scores 0 points.
      By 2025 Merc, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston will all be much closer so they’ll need both cars and that means Perez out, Lawson in. In the meantime Lawson will drive for AT for most of 2024 because Ricciardo will do his usual thing when he’s not winning and leave.

  16. The guy said he needed to take a good look at his race in Japan and then does this.

    He won’t get better, not on this car. There’s something there he just can’t deal with.

  17. Fact of the matter is, they have no-one to replace him.

    Yuki is WAY too inconsistent still, Ricciardo hasn’t had enough time back to really proove the McLaren years were an anomaly, and Lawson is still very green for a championship winning car.

    Given their history, they absolutely would have swapped him out by now if they had any credible options. Bet they are kicking themselves for throwing Alex away now.

    1. If Tsunoda was a little bit better, he’d take that seat. But he’s 3 years in and isn’t reliable at all not even to justify being in AT, even less getting a promotion to the top team.

      So, they burning Gasly and Albon in less than 2 years is what is saving Perez now.

  18. I’m pretty sure Perez will be relieved of his Red Bull duties before the start of next season. There will be some performance clause that will allow RB to get him out of that seat. But I have no idea who they will replace him with – presumably they’d have to poach someone from another team, since none of their juniors are up to the job, unless they want to give Tsunoda a shot (career suicide for Tsunoda). It’s the same with Logan – they won’t fire him before the two US Grands Prix, and they won’t fire Checo before Mexico. It’s just poor marketing.

  19. There is no “form” to find. He’s a mediocre driver at best …… and that’s all he ever was.

    1. This season he was mediocre, but not ever was.

      He beat very decent teammates like the Hulk and Ocon.

      1. Hmmm interesting point, Ocon is currently going tit for tat with Gasly, who was also nowhere near Verstappen in the RB.
        Perhaps he really is that good..

      2. In all honesty, he beat Ocon 5 years ago and in the 2nd year, Ocon was generally the faster driver but Perez was better at collecting results, including a podium.
        I don’t think he would beat Ocon today, both plenty experienced, in any car of the grid.

      3. Perez is a joke. He was a joke at McLaren and he’s been a joke at RBR. He shines in a midfield team because he’s a midfield driver …. Nothing more.

  20. Perez makes Bottas look like Nico Rosberg.

  21. When Horner says Perze needs to find his form, does he mean the application form for Job Seekers Allowance?

  22. I’ve always liked Checo a lot. Unfortunately, like many before him, he has been undone psychologically by trying to match a teammate who’s just too many notches ahead in pure talent. He’s a better driver than he’s showing this season, but his peak may have passed.

  23. Sad to see Perez doing so bad. He is at all time low. He just need to end P2 for this year and need good performance as Mclaren are fast, Mercedes, Ferrari are not slow either.

    Ricciardo may match Yuki but I think it is going to be close between them. Lawson is slower even after spending 2yrs in F2. This year in Japan he is doing well so I guess he is improving but he does not have raw speed.

  24. I think Horner is being disingenuous. The team isn’t “desperate” about anything. If they only had one car they’d still be constructor champion. The brutal truth is they don’t need Perez… or anyone else. If you remove his points it makes no difference to the championship. All Perez has to fight for is second in the drivers championship, and the team couldn’t care less about that. And Christian obviously doesn’t think he’ll need a second driver next year either, because if he did he would have fired Perez by now. Perez is safe at Team Verstappen as long as he does his real job, which is Don’t Challenge Max. There is no chance of Ricciardo rejoining the team because everyone knows what would happen… his team mate would beat him and he’d throw his toys out the pram and leave… that’s his M.O.

    1. PG, that is a tekking stat, about Perez’s points making no overall difference to the WCC. Do you know if this has happened before?

  25. Unless they put someone like Piastri, Leclerc or Hamilton in the other car, it won’t make a lot of difference to who wins at Red Bull. And that’s not happening.
    So the only real hope for some actual competition next year is down to the other teams and cars. Surely (!) one of McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes can make the leap…?

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