Christian Horner issues latest Sergio Perez verdict after disastrous DNF in Mexico

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez collides with Charles Leclerc at the Mexican GP start.

Sergio Perez in the air after a crash in Mexico.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner is sticking to the supportive approach after a nightmare home race for Sergio Perez, while a main candidate to potentially replace him in Daniel Ricciardo shone.

Perez has seen his F1 2023 campaign unravel, to the point where speculation is rife that Red Bull could look to bring in a new team-mate for Max Verstappen, rather than allowing Perez to fulfil the final year of his contract next year.

His home race in Mexico then was the perfect opportunity to flip the momentum, but it was not to be.

Red Bull continue to support Sergio Perez

Having been outqualified by Ricciardo in the junior AlphaTauri car, Perez was looking to undo any qualifying disappointment as he made a bid for the lead heading into Turn 1 at the Mexican GP, though that resulted in a race-ending collision with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

And with Verstappen going on to add another dominant win to his collection, the pressure grew further on Perez.

“Yeah, I mean, very contrasting,” Horner told Sky F1 of the Red Bull pair’s respective outings.

“Another amazing race by Max today, total and utter dominance, but for Checo, just absolutely gutting home race.

“And he had a rocket ship launch and had so much momentum going into that first corner. You can’t blame him for going for it to try and take the lead at his own race.”

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It was put to Horner though that Perez is making an unfortunate habit of attempting these audacious moves, such examples in Singapore and Japan both resulting in collisions as well.

But, when asked if talks are therefore needed with Perez to address this, Horner said the key is to support him in a bid to return the F1 veteran to form.

“Look, he’s got 13 years of experience in Formula 1,” said Horner. “And I think when you’re going through a difficult moment, it’s important to support him.

“And I think that he was having a great weekend up until that point and he was going for the lead at his home race in Mexico City, with a crowd that it’s insane the amount of support behind him, and three into one doesn’t go and unfortunately he was just on the wrong side of it.”

Praise heaped on Daniel Ricciardo “we’re used to seeing”

If ever there was a weekend where Perez could have done without Ricciardo delivering a mighty display, then it was here in Mexico. Sadly, Perez’s luck was out in that regard too.

Having qualified a sensational P4 on his second race back from injury, Ricciardo turned that into a P7 finish, falling narrowly short of P6 as he harried Mercedes’ George Russell in the final laps.

Horner lauded that Ricciardo display, while reiterating that the task at hand for Red Bull is to start building Perez’s confidence again as well.

“You couldn’t fail to be impressed by Daniel this weekend,” said Horner.

“I mean, his qualifying was outstanding yesterday and he showed his maturity and experience and pace in the race. I think that fighting a Mercedes in an AlphaTauri for their best result of the year, it was a great performance. And had it not been for the red flag [after Kevin Magnussen crashed out], he might have actually finished even even further up.

“So he can take a lot of confidence, coming back from injury, he’s had a rough time over the last couple of months having to sit on the sidelines, but that’s the Daniel that we’re used to seeing.

“As we’ve seen in sport, confidence is such a thing and his confidence is coming up. Checo we just need him to have a confidence-boosting result and he could have had it today, but it wasn’t to be.”

Perez alarmingly saw his buffer in P2 in the Drivers’ Championship over Lewis Hamilton slashed to 20 points, Hamilton having claimed a P2 finish and the fastest lap in Mexico.

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