Horner: Verstappen and Perez free to race

Horner: Verstappen and Perez free to race
Christian Horner insisted that Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are free to race each other as long as that doesn’t jeopardize Red Bull’s interests as a team.

Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have been even so far in the 2023 Formula 1 season, each driver claiming two wins, the former leading the Drivers’ Championship by six points only, and Christian Horner insists the team is not focusing on their drivers’ rivalry as much as they plan to build a gap with the rest of the teams.

Red Bull are in great form in 2023, but after their cost cap penalty, where their aerodynamic development time was slashed by 10%, they are wary of other teams developing their cars and catching up with them as the season progresses, and their penalty becomes a bigger hindrance.

Of the Title battle between his drivers, Horner told Motorsport.com: “Well at moment it’s the two of them. 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.

The team’s interests out way the driversط

“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,” he explained.

Horner insisted, in the aftermath of the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, that his drivers are free to race as long as the team’s interests are not put at risk which is the main criterium on which they base their driver management strategy, the other being each driver’s performance on track.

“There’s six points between them after four races so yeah, they’re both competitive drivers,” he pointed out. “They both want to win, which is why they’re employed by the team. And I think that it’s down to what they do on the track.

“They were free to race today and, all year so far, they’ve been free,” Horner insisted, and when quizzed if that would be case all season long; he responded: “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,” the 49-year-old Briton concluded.