Red Bull boss Christian Horner has spoken about what Sergio Perez has to do to retain his seat with the team in 2023.
Perez’s contract with Red Bull comes to an end at the conclusion of the 2022 season, but the Mexican’s form throughout this season has made him a near shoo-in to keep his seat for next year.
Both Perez and Red Bull have indicated a desire to continue to work together, with Perez revealing on Friday in Monaco that discussions to finalise a new deal will likely happen during the summer.
Team boss Horner has backed Perez to continue, saying he just needs to keep doing exactly what he has been doing throughout 2022 so far.
“He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” Horner said on Saturday in Monaco.
“He’s doing a great job, we are very happy with him. He’s driven extremely well so far this year.
“The delta between him and Max [Verstappen], as you know, has diminished significantly compared to last season. I think he’s happier in the car. He’s achieved that fantastic pole position already in Jeddah this year.
“He’s driven some great races and is a team player. I don’t think there’s anyone better in the pit lane. So he’s doing a great job, he needs to keep doing what he’s doing and then talks should hopefully be reasonably straightforward.”
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Perez showed his first unhappiness with Red Bull during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend having called for “internal talks” after he felt he had been treated unfairly during the race as he ceded position to Verstappen early in the grand prix only to not have the favour returned when he wanted later on.
Horner spoke about the situation and said Perez understood the scenario once he had the benefit of hindsight.
“Max had a moment at Turn 4 and rejoined and caught that group very quickly. Sergio had a few laps of trying to pass George [Russell] and Max had got a DRS that was intermittently working but looked like he’d got significantly more pace at that time,” Horner explained.
“So we decided to let Max have a go at passing George and then, unfortunately, our temperamental DRS worked on some laps and not on others. It was a question of ‘well, is it going to work this lap?’ because he was constantly within that zone to be able to make a relatively easy overtake.
“I think Checo (Perez) would have liked to have been able to have perhaps – after Max hadn’t been able to make the pass for a couple of laps – been able to be let back through to have another go.
“But, of course, we didn’t have that crystal ball to see when that DRS would work so, other than that, he understood exactly when we discussed it pre-race that a three-stop versus a two-stop…what the potential scenarios of those would play out and indeed, in the end, we converted Checo also onto a three-stop to bag the fastest lap.
“So there are so many things in play that, as I say, by the end of Sunday he was totally cool with it.”
Singing Perez’s praises after his willingness to release Verstappen when needed, Horner said there is total harmony across the Red Bull outfit.
“He’s a great team player, a huge part of our team,” he said.
“And I think once he understood the different strategies, the tyre advantage, of course, that Max had, with temperatures soaring out of control. We saw the issues, obviously, Ferrari had as a team, it was a logical thing to do, not to allow the drivers to fight each other, and try to bank those points.
“So we’ve obviously talked it through – the rationale behind that – which he fully accepted and understood.”