Christian Horner said the prospect of Sergio Perez being axed by Red Bull, should he fail to secure the F1 2023 runner-up spot, is not something that has even been discussed.
Red Bull’s double champion status is already secured for this season, the team having secured the Constructors’ Championship in Japan, while Max Verstappen became a three-time World Champion in Qatar.
However, it is not all sunshine and roses at Red Bull, with Perez far from in his happy place right now.
Red Bull not discussing early Sergio Perez exit
Perez has fallen into a further alarming slump in form, with Horner describing both his Japanese and Qatar GPs outings a “shocker”. Lewis Hamilton is now only 30 points behind Perez as he smells the opportunity to deny Red Bull a one-two finish.
That is something Red Bull has never done before, and if Perez does not improve to make it happen, rumour has it that he would not be afforded the luxury of the final year of his current deal in F1 2024.
Horner though has moved to put a stop to such speculation.
“It’s not something that we have discussed or even contemplated,” Horner told the Mirror in response to that suggestion.
“Checo is our driver and we want to support him in the best way that we can.
“We believe that he can achieve that second place in the Championship but he is up against tough competitors with a lot of racing still to go.
“We selected Checo in the first place because of his experience and his ability to be able to deal with pressure. He did a lot for us in ’21 and ’22, contributing to the Constructors’ Championship last year and this year with the victories he has achieved.
“We know what he is capable of and we haven’t seen that for the last couple of races. We want to support him to make sure he gets back to that early-season form. It’s a tough season and tough being Max’s team-mate – we mustn’t forget the challenge that is mentally.
“We know what Checo is capable of and we know that qualifying tends to be his weakness, but when racing he comes alive on a Sunday afternoon. He’s demonstrated that time and time again.
“We have six one-two finishes this year, he’s won two Grands Prix and he’s still second in the World Championship 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. It’s not all been bad!”
Sergio Perez takes recovery efforts to whole new level
Far from a driver resigned to his fate, Horner detailed and praised the amount of work Perez is putting in to try and get his Red Bull career back on track.
Horner confirmed that Perez was working in the simulator for three days straight prior to the United States Grand Prix, something which the Mexican racer has never done previously.
“He was on the simulator for three days last week, which is not something he has ever done previously,” Horner revealed.
“Three days in succession to try to help him to get to the root cause of some of the issues he felt he had in Qatar and Japan.”
Putting in the work is one thing, but for Perez the most important aspect will of course be any improvements he has made as a result of that mammoth sim stint.
And Horner believes that the 33-year-old has indeed made “great progress” as a result.
“I think he made some great progress,” said Horner. “So, hopefully, that will come to the fore this weekend.
“He’s going the extra yard, which is so important.”
Perez is on a three-race streak without a podium, scoring only five points in that time.