Horner: Perez 'capable' of winning title, but Max a better candidate

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Sergio Perez has the "capability" of fighting for the title this season, but believes Max Verstappen remains the better candidate.

Perez was comprehensively dominated by Verstappen during last year's campaign, the Mexican winning two races – in Monaco and Singapore – while the reigning world champion took home a massive 15 victories.

Last week in New York, as Red Bull unveiled its 2023 contender, Perez stated that his aim this season was to maximize his car's potential and to be in a position to fight for a race win at every round.

That may very well be the case, and Horner insists Red Bull will need both its drivers racing at the front of the field. But ultimately, over the course of the entire season, the Briton reckons that Verstappen remains a better bet for the title.

"The form that Max has been in means he is the man to beat," Horner told Auto Motor und Sport in Germany.

"He's the reigning World Champion and Checo has to strive for that, otherwise, why is he competing?

"But I think the reality is that in all probability, Max over the season is likely to be the candidate for the World Championship.

"But Checo has the capability to be right there, we need both drivers performing at the best of their ability for the Constructors' Championship.

"Checo knows exactly what is expected from him, and being Max's teammate is a pretty daunting prospect for any driver.

"But he has handled that very well, and was an integral part of us winning the Constructors' Championship [in 2022], and he finished a very close third in the [Drivers'], winning two Grands Prix [in Monaco and Singapore].

"Checo has evolved since he joined the team in 2021."

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Perez's cause this season will perhaps be helped by a car that will better suit his driving style, contrary to last year's RB18.

In New York, Perez said that he had "pushed" Red Bull during the design and development phase of the team's new car to help eliminate some of the issues he encountered last season.

"We believe that the car is already going to be better," he said. "I've been pushing the team in a certain direction, and we believe we're heading in that direction.

"But we'll see. Once we get the car, it's all about adapting ourselves to the car and try to maximise it."

Perez owned up to the relative weakness he displayed at times last year, admitting that his side of the garage had not always worked in the right direction when it came to setting up its RB18.

"Learning from the mistakes we did, I think sometimes we took the wrong direction with the set-up and that's very important for us to understand," he explained.

"I think we figured out towards the end of the season what we were doing with the car, so that's been crucial for us.

"And I think we are we are heading in the right direction with it."

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