Perez doesn’t need second place to keep F1 seat, says Red Bull

Perez has faced his fair share of difficulties as Max Verstappen‘s team-mate throughout 2023, and he has failed to win a race in the dominant RB19 since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

His struggles have at times prompted questions about Red Bull potentially trying to find a way to terminate the contract he has for 2024 and slot a replacement in.

Speculation on that front has further been fuelled by suggestions that Red Bull’s mindset on the matter will be decided by whether or not Perez finishes runner-up to Verstappen in the F1 title chase.

But Horner insists that is not the case, and says that while Red Bull would like nothing more than for Perez to finish runner-up, his seat for next year is guaranteed irrespective of what happens.

“There’s no pre-mandate like that,” said Horner when asked if Perez’s future rested on finishing second.

“We’ve never finished first and second in a championship. We finished first and third a few times with Mark [Webber] and Sebastian [Vettel] and we finished it last year with Max and Checo.

“So, with this car, it would be fantastic, in such a season that we’ve had, if we could finish first and second.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, on the grid

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, on the grid

“But there’s no pre-mandate on Checo that you have to finish second or you won’t be driving the car next year. That’s never been discussed.”

Horner said that Red Bull wanted nothing more than to see Perez return to the kind of form he showed earlier in the year when he was battling Verstappen for wins in the opening phase of the campaign.

“We know Checo,” he said. “If you see Checo’s performances in the first part of the year: Bahrain, was very, very tight with Max. The race in Saudi, it was a great race between the two of them pushing each other really hard, with very fine margins.

“His race in Azerbaijan, winning the sprint and the grand prix there. Those are the kinds of performances that we know he’s capable of.

“I think it’s just getting him back into that mind frame and to get the most out of him to get him back to those levels of performances.”

While Horner has said there is no doubt about Perez remaining with Red Bull into 2024, beyond that the squad was quite relaxed about things.

“We are certainly not short of options,” he explained about a decision for 2025. “Of course, we’ve got plenty of time to look and evaluate that, but there’s so many factors involved.”

Asked if there were any concerns, however, of Red Bull struggling to find someone who was willing to go up against Verstappen in the same car, Horner was clear it would not be a problem.

“To beat Max, you’ve got to beat him somehow,” he said. “I think the amount of interest that we have in being a Red Bull Racing driver in 2025, we’re certainly not short of options.”

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