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Horner: Perez just needs an arm around his shoulder

Max-Verstappen-Sergio-Perez-Horner

Sergio Perez need not worry about his short-term future with Red Bull, this was made clear by Christian Horner as Daniel Ricciardo taking over from Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri. Apparently, the 33-year-old veteran only needs cuddle (of sorts) according to the team boss,

The return of Ricciardo to the Formula 1 grid, immediately triggered speculation that Perez was next to get the axe if he did not get his act together ASAP. The Australian merely warming up at AlphaTauri before becoming Max Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate again.

Triggering the speculation is the fact that the veteran Mexican has hit a dire patch in which he struggles to make it out of Q1 with the best car on the grid, which the RB19 is.

The same car with the #1 plate meanwhile tops the timing sheets in just about every session, with Verstappen now unbeaten in six races ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix next up. Perez on the other hand, the only real ‘challenger’ is already 99 points behind in the 2023 F1 Drivers’ standings and it’s just the halfway mark of this mammoth season.

Quoted by the official F1 website, Horner showed solidarity with beleaguered Perez: “I think he’s the type of guy that just needs an arm around his shoulder. You work with him and that’s what we’re doing.

Horner: It’s frustrating for Perez that he’s having to fight back all the time

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After missing out on Q3 for a fifth race in a row, 16th at the end of qualifying for the British Grand Prix last Saturday was another Perez clanger. But Horner believes Checo will turn things around: “He just needs to break it now. He’ll do it in Budapest, I’m confident.”

Referencing Perez’s comeback drive from P15 on the grid to sixth at the end of the race on Sunday, Horner pointed out: “The way he races, some of his moves in the race, the one particularly on Carlos Sainz, was quite stunning into Stowe. If you look at his pace in the final stint, he was right there.

“It’s frustrating for him that he’s having to fight back all the time, but he’s just got to sort his qualifying out on Saturday and as a team, we’ll do our best to support him on that.

“I think it’s just one of those things. As in sport, all sport, 90% of it is in the head and I think he just needs a good run, and he’ll find his momentum again,” predicted Horner.

Meanwhile, the inescapable truth is that Perez has one big problem: Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has been perfection since he suffered defeat to his teammate back in April in Baku. The destruction has been eye-opening.

Perhaps the big-talk was the Karmic moment when the tables turned on Checo

Baku Takeaways: A Red Bull conundrum?

Clearly stung by his teammate’s excellent drive in Azerbaijan and before that in Jeddah, by Perez. The reigning F1 World Champion simply raised his game while his teammate defied his own title ambitions and crumbled just when he was talking up his title chances.

Whatever the case he is simply not the same driver he was earlier in the season, and with Verstappen cleaning up in the other car, there is simply nowhere to hide.

Horner explained: “You’re always looking for perfection in this business. Of course, we’re always trying to say: Where can we better? In this instance, it’s: Where can we help Checo to achieve what he’s doing on Sundays on Saturday?”

“We’re supporting him, we know he can do it, we know he’ll get back there, and we’re just trying to make sure it happens as quickly as possible,” insisted Horner.

No matter who says what, if the streak of no Q3 appearances continues for Perez, and he does not find a magic on-switch for his performance – with immediate effect aka Hungary – the Ricciardo ‘warm-up-at-the-RBR-junior-team’ idea will then turn out to have been a very good one, inadvertently or not.