Horner backs Perez after torrid Imola race

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez, Christian Horner

After struggling in the race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Christian Horner says Sergio Perez will have “many stronger Sunday afternoons” ahead of him at Red Bull.

Perez had qualified on the front row for the first time in his career, simultaneously earning the distinction of being the first Red Bull driver since Daniel Ricciardo in 2018 to out-qualify Max Verstappen with no penalties involved.

At the start, though, both Perez and Lewis Hamilton were jumped by Verstappen and the Mexican soon fell behind Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.

Coupled with that, after having an off behind the Safety Car, he incurred a 10-second stop/go penalty after he wrongly overtook cars to regain his place.

While conditions were tough at Imola, Perez’s race would worsen further when he spun off at the Villeneuve Chicane after the race restarted, following a red flag for George Russell and Valtteri Bottas’ crash.

Red Bull team principal Horner was pragmatic about Perez’s difficult Sunday, though.

“There were a lot of things going on in the race,” Horner said. “That was unfortunate. It was a shame because he had such a good Saturday, but Sunday just didn’t go his way.

“I’m sure he’s going to have many stronger Sunday afternoons.”

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko wasn’t as forgiving of Perez’s performance, however, saying the Mexican had “a very bad day with a bad performance.”

Horner believes that having more time in the car will help erase the mistakes that hampered his race, with this being the first time the 31-year-old will have driven his new car in wet conditions – adding that Perez is “finding his feet” in the team.

“I think he had a very good day [in qualifying], he was obviously frustrated to miss out on the pole,” Horner continued.

“I think it’s just seat time, consecutive sets of tyres that he run in qualifying, it’s just time in the seat.

“He did a good job on Saturday. It was a messier race for him. Obviously, the mistake behind the Safety Car early on, the 10-second penalty and then unfortunately the mistake behind the Ferraris at the restart.

“It was a shame because he could well have been on the podium as well. Frustrating not to have him up there but he’s certainly finding his pace, finding his feet.

“I’m sure he’s going to have much stronger weekends ahead.”

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