All eyes are on Sergio Perez in 2024, as the Mexican aims to retain his seat with Red Bull beyond this year, with Christian Horner outlining his expectations.
Perez heads into 2024 armed with the knowledge that he needs a big year to be retained by Red Bull for a further spell as this year marks the final season of his current contract.
Despite finishing second in the 2023 title chase, Perez had a tough season despite a tremendous start to the campaign, with the Mexican unable to trouble the dominance of Max Verstappen for most of the year.
Christian Horner: It’s down to Sergio Perez from here
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com ahead of the 2024 season, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner opened up on the possibility of there being a shoot-out through the year between the potentials for the seat.
With Perez aiming to retain, he’ll have to worry about the potential of Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian has made it clear he wants to return to the second seat at Red Bull, while Liam Lawson is also eager to stake a claim after a brilliant run of debut races with AlphaTauri.
“It’s Checo’s [Perez] seat,” Horner said.
“He’s in the car because we believe he’s the right driver now.
“It’s down to him over the next nine months to demonstrate that we feel that way for 2025.
“Of course, we’ve got great talent in the pool with Daniel, with Liam, with Yuki [Tsunoda]. So time will tell.”
Earlier this month, Horner pointed out to Sky F1 where they really need Perez to dig deep: “The area that he needs to focus on improving [this] year is going to be Saturdays. Making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max because we know he can race and he’s got great pace, but we need him to be starting further up the grid.
“Particularly if the grid is going to converge then we can’t afford to have a lot of cars between Max and Checo. The car has been very attractive for other drivers to want to be in so we’re not short of options.”
Christian Horner sure Sergio Perez will be ‘firing on all cylinders’ in 2024
With rumours recently emerging that drivers are even approaching Red Bull to drive for the Milton Keynes-based team for free, just like Ayrton Senna did with the dominant Williams team in the early 1990s, Horner smiled.
“You can imagine that when you’ve got a car that’s won all bar one race,” he said, “it’s pretty appealing to any driver on the grid.”
Speaking after Abu Dhabi, Horner had said Red Bull need Perez “firing on all cylinders at 24 races next year because the competition will move closer.
“So we need both drivers as tightly bunched as we can in order to ensure that we do our utmost to defend both titles.”
With Perez back to work and training hard ahead of the 2024 season, Horner said he’s seeing all the right signs from Perez to give himself the best possible chance of a much stronger season.
“The conversations that we’ve had over the winter, I think, have all been very positive,” he said.
“I think he knows what he’s got to do, he’s been around the sport long enough, and he’s got enough experience.
“So I’m sure he’s going to come in firing on all cylinders.”