Horner: Perez outshines Red Bull predecessors with one key quality

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Christian Horner has highlighted a key attribute that sets Sergio Perez apart from Max Verstappen’s previous teammates and which has kept him alongside the Dutchman longer than his predecessors.

Perez suffered a challenging 2023 campaign marked by inconsistencies, errors and setbacks, and by a growing deficit to Verstappen.

While the pair traded wins in the first four races of the season, thereafter Perez never saw the light of day against the Dutchman, the Mexican losing his way and spending the greater part of his year stuck in a slump until the final rounds of 2023.

But for all his struggles, Perez managed to survive to fight another season. And Horner suggests that Perez owes his survival to a specific trait that played a crucial role in upholding his driver’s resilience in the face of adversity.

“If you’re not psychologically strong you won’t cope being [Max’s] teammate, it’s as simple as that,” Horner the Sky F1 podcast. “He’s just relentless in his pace, in the way that he operates.

“I think that’s one of the positives for Checo, he’s had the strength of character of being able to deal with that.

“We’ve seen that break others in the past. It’s a tough gig to be his teammate.”

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Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon all succumbed to the weight of expectations and were unable to consistently challenge Verstappen.

But Horner believes that Perez's mental fortitude is the key factor that has enabled him to retain his position at Red Bull.

“We always field the most competitive cars we can,” the Briton added. “There’s never a difference between the two cars.

“We had an era with Sebastian [Vettel] where he was incredibly dominant and it was difficult to be his teammate.

“Now with Max, exactly the same thing. He’s a machine. He’s certainly the best driver currently in F1 as a three-time world champion and to be his teammate is incredibly tough.”


Unfortunately, character alone won’t bring in the points on race day. Perez’s main weakness this season has been his qualifying form, a deficit that often left him chasing from behind on Sundays.

“His biggest resolution would be to sort his qualifying out”, added Horner. “That has been his Achilles heel at certain points this year.

“I think if he can do that, his race pace is always strong, he races very well.

"We need him qualifying nearer the front, nearer to Max, putting more pressure on.

"We can’t afford him to go missing at certain points of the championship and have that consistency.

“He finished second this year, third last year, fourth the year before, so he’s on the right trajectory!”

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