Christian Horner quizzed on Red Bull ‘criteria’ for Sergio Perez to keep seat

Thomas Maher
Sergio Perez, Christian Horner, 2024 Bahrain GP.

Christian Horner has updated on what Sergio Perez must do to retain his Red Bull seat for 2025.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has said Sergio Perez’s drive in Bahrain is exactly what he needs to do to retain his seat for 2025.

Sergio Perez is one of several drivers under pressure for 2025, with the Mexican driver driving in the early stages of this year without a contract signed for next season.

Christian Horner: ‘No set criteria’ for Sergio Perez contract

With Perez’s seat currently up for grabs, the 2023 runner-up remains the top candidate for the cockpit next year provided he can ably provide support and back-up for Max Verstappen’s title defence.

Throughout the final races of 2023, Horner made it clear that it’s Perez’s seat to lose but that, provided he can come up with the goods this year, the odds are good that he can earn himself a contract extension.

Having come through from fifth on the grid at the season opener in Bahrain to claim second and secure a comfortable Red Bull 1-2 to mark a perfect start to the season for the Milton Keynes-based squad, Horner praised his driver for having done what he needed to do.

With Max Verstappen having dominated the race even more than he did to secure a 1-2 finish in the same race last year, Horner downplayed the extent of Red Bull’s dominance.

“Look, everything’s relative, isn’t it?” he told media, including PlanetF1.com, when asked about the margin of victory having doubled for Verstappen over 2023.

“Checo [Perez] came from P5, Max was obviously managing the race as many drivers are managing different tyres at different times.

“It’s not a question of how much you win by, it’s a question about winning. We won today, Max dominated the race and was in a class of his own.

“Checo drove an outstanding race as well, coming through the field from fifth on the grid. Fastest lap – I think the back end of the race was exaggerated by the offset of tyres that we carried in.

“I’m surprised that others didn’t carry softs into the race when it was clearly, in these conditions, the better tyre to have.”

With Perez’s contract up for renewal, Horner said the Mexican hasn’t been given any set targets to hit – but races like Bahrain are just what the doctor ordered.

“There’s no set criteria,” he said.

“He’s got to do enough to earn that seat and, days like today, he’s done exactly what he’s got to deliver.”

With Horner having faced intense off-track scrutiny over the weekend as the fall-out of Red Bull GmbH investigated allegations regarding his behaviour as team boss continued, he was asked whether the victory tasted all the sweeter in light of the adversity.

“You can see what it meant to the whole team,” he said.

“Better to do your talking on the track.”

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As for Perez, coming into the season, he has explained he feels “fully fresh” facing the challenge of 2024 after enduring a difficult season last year.

“With the learning of last year, it’s very important that we will learn what went wrong and learn from our mistakes,” he said.

“I think we understood a lot of things. It’s my fourth year with Red Bull and I would expect to be at my best for this season.”

As for the specifics as to what he intends to achieve this year as his regroup, Perez said he’s aiming to take a calmer approach and won’t necessarily be going hell for leather in the opening races of the year.

“It’s to maximise every single opportunity,” he said.

“To get a really strong base early on, and just be able to carry that through the whole season and be able to develop through the season.

“Understanding the difficult races [last year] and why they were so difficult, the directions we were taking with the car, and how we were overcompensating things and not necessarily making the car better. I think all of that we managed to learn.”

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