Horner: Red Bull intra-team battle set to 'ebb and flow'

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner expects the intra-team battle between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to "ebb and flow" this season as the pair remain free to race other.

In Baku, Perez conquered his second win of the year, beating his teammate fair and square and drawing level with the latter in terms of race wins in 2023, with two victories each.

Perez also reduced his deficit to Verstappen in the Drivers' standings to just six points.

The superiority of Red Bull's RB19 over its rivals has put the two drivers in a league of their own, a dominance that is also allowing Red Bull to leave its fellow competitors in the dust in the Constructors' championship.

But the sheer number of remaining races and the diversity of tracks will likely see the rivalry between Verstappen and Perez continue to play out, according to Horner who wants to see the team "build a buffer" in upcoming events.

"Well at moment it's the two of them," said the Red Bull chief, commenting on the title fight. "There's a slight gap between the rest of the field, but there's 19 more races to go, and five sprint races.

"So there's a huge amount of racing and a whole variance of different circuits to go through, so it could ebb and flow between the two of them. Reliability will be a key factor.

"And what we're more focused on as well at the moment is building a buffer with both of the drivers.

"Because when we get back to Europe, I'm sure there's going to be sizeable upgrades. And, of course, we have a reduced capacity to develop this year, so that's where our focus is - trying to build a gap."

So far, Red Bull has given its drivers a free rein to fight, but will that remain the outfit's policy moving forward?

"Yes, until the team's interests - if you're competing against a competitor - becomes bigger than the drivers' interests. But, as it is at the moment, they're free to race."

Horner applauded Perez for adding another street race victory to his track record, and joked that the Mexican now needs "to get going on the proper circuits".

"Checo is definitely living up to his nickname of King of the Streets or whatever his latest docuseries is going to be called," noted the Briton. "An incredible weekend by him.

"But, having got the lead, he built close to a four-second lead at one point and controlled the race, so he used his opportunity, and converted it into a great win.

"He just needs to do it on a normal track. He’s excelled at street circuits – all his victories, certainly for us, have been at street tracks.

"It’s the second time he’s won here, he won in Singapore, he won in Monaco, won in Jeddah, so he just needs to get going on the proper circuits."

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