Pundit’s theory on Christian Horner reassurance to Max Verstappen after Baku

Michelle Foster
Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez pose for the camera. Drive to Survive

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez pose for the camera.

Lamenting with Max Verstappen the timing of the Safety Car in Baku, Ted Kravitz believes that was Christian Horner’s way of telling the reigning Champion that he’s “still our man for the championship”.

Verstappen lost out to his team-mate Sergio Perez at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the street circuit magician taking the lead after an ill-timed Safety Car dropped Verstappen from P1 to P3.

Although the Dutchman made short work of Charles Leclerc to run second behind his team-mate, Perez held his nerve to keep Verstappen at bay with a gap of roughly 1.4s before the Dutchman gradually fell back as he struggled with his car balance.

Perez took the win and the much-needed 25 points to close the gap to the reigning World Champion to just six points in what is fast becoming a Red Bull-only battle for the title.

Taking the chequered flag, a jubilant Perez declared he was “in the fight”, he just needed to “sort out the issues like Melbourne”, while shortly after Horner was heard lamenting with Verstappen about the “lucky” timing of the Safety Car for Perez.

“Yeah, well done, Max,” said the team boss. “Checo got a little lucky with the Safety Car there, but it’s a long, long season, [and] very, very good points today, so great team result, well done.”

Those messages caught Kravitz’s attention.

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“I thought the Perez radio message was interesting, when he said: ‘Look, guys, we are still in the fight’,” he said in his post-race notebook for Sky Sports.

“It felt like Perez was talking to his engineer and mechanics only, and not the rest of the team.

“He was saying: ‘We are still in the fight, we can’t have issues like we did in Melbourne’ where Checo had a nightmare and didn’t score. ‘We can’t have issues like we had in Melbourne and we can still get this championship’.

“The subtext being him saying he’s still in the championship. And they can, of course, only six points between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

“But then you’ve got on the pit wall, Christian Horner with what sounded like reassuring radio messages to Max Verstappen saying: ‘Okay, never mind Max, Checo got lucky with the Safety Car, but it’s a long, long season’.

“That, to my ears and to anyone reasonable, sounds like Christian Horner saying to Max: ‘Look, don’t worry, you’re still our man for the championship’.

“Checo of course is thinking: ‘Hang on, I’ll fight tooth and nail to be the man to fight for the championship’.”