Horner admits Red Bull need to get Perez ‘into the mix’


Christian Horner gave Sergio Perez encouraging marks despite his lackluster display in the Spanish Grand Prix but made it clear that Red Bull expects more from the Mexican driver.

Perez managed to qualify for Saturday’s top-ten shootout for the first time in four events but was forced to start his race from P11 on the grid following a grid penalty carried over from Canada.

While Max Verstappen charged to his 61st career win in F1 in Barcelona, Perez’ run to P8 was a seemingly underwhelming effort.

Horner noted that Perez had achieved the team’s strategic target, but the Red Bull chief’s overall tone suggested that significant improvements are expected from the Mexican.

“We put him on a three-stop,” Horner told Sky Sports. “It worked out. He passed Pierre Gasly on the last lap. He will have taken confidence from that race.

“Theoretically we said eighth was the best that he could do today. He achieved that. He will have taken a bit out of this weekend, but we need to get him more into the mix.”

Sky F1 commentator Damon Hill labeled Perez’s performance shortfall as “disastrous” for Red Bull.

“It’s difficult to understand, isn’t it? He’s got in the best car next to McLaren, obviously, but he’s not able to match Max,” said the 1996 F1 World Champion.

“Now, that means four or five grid places [between Perez and Verstappen]. It’s disastrous really for Red Bull if they want to get him scoring maximum [points], or even helping Max in defending in races. He’s nowhere near up to speed.”


Assessing his race, Perez reckoned that his starting position had left significantly complicated his task.

“I think the main problem was the starting position,” he explained.

“I overtook Fernando [Alonso] but got overtaken by Nico [Hulkenberg]. It was a really, really difficult first stint which compromised the race.

“It was difficult to follow in the dirty air.”

While the gulf between Perez and Verstappen in Spain was once again a glaring sign of the team's current driver disparity, the Mexican preferred to highlight the improvements of Red Bull’s direct rivals, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.

“They are back, really strong,” he said. “We must deliver perfect weekends for the team.

“McLaren look, at the moment, like the strongest team. We must make sure we come back, at different tracks, to be more competitive.”


Perez suggested that upcoming upgrades might improve his fortunes.

“There are upgrades in the pipeline. The same as everyone. But I think most important is to maximise the balance, more than any upgrade.

“It has been really difficult on my side, at the moment.”

Perez's slump has inevitably cast a shadow over the two-year contract extension he recently signed with Red Bull.

While the team publicly maintains their support, the pressure is undoubtedly on. If Perez fails to recapture his earlier spark and deliver stronger results after the break, whispers of a potential replacement after F1’s summer break could quickly become a roar.

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