Christian Horner thinks this year’s less “peculiar” Red Bull car is aiding Sergio Perez to maintain a strong level of performance.
The Mexican driver is in his second year with the team after a solid debut campaign in which he won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and collected 190 points to finish fourth in the World Championship.
But Perez was not totally consistent as he struggled to get to grips with the RB16B and there are signs he is now delivering what the team require more regularly – he has finished in the top four on each occasion he has reached the chequered flag this term.
Although unlikely to challenge his team-mate Max Verstappen for individual glory the 32-year-old will certainly be eyeing Constructors’ title success, with Red Bull bearing down on current leaders Ferrari and trailing by only six points going into the Spanish Grand Prix.
Formula 1’s much-changed regulations meant brand-new cars had to be designed for this year and according to team principal Horner, a less quirky Red Bull is suiting Perez compared to the one he had to learn last season.
“He’s driving at a very high level,” Horner told reporters. “He’s more comfortable in the team this year.
“I think the car suits him better this year. It doesn’t have some of the peculiarities the previous, probably three, cars of ours had.
“We are happy with the job he’s doing.”
But are Red Bull happy enough with Perez to offer him another year in 2023 as Verstappen’s team-mate?
At present, there would appear no obvious reason to make a change other than Red Bull will need to make a decision about Pierre Gasly’s future at some point, the Frenchman remaining a big part of their ‘sister’ team, AlphaTauri.
But speaking before Perez’s fourth-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, Horner insisted more evidence was required before Red Bull commit to the former Sauber, McLaren and Racing Point man beyond the end of 2022.
“We’ve only seen a sample of four races, so it’s still early in the year,” said Horner, who has seen Perez secure his first F1 pole position at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“But everyone within the team is very pleased with the job Checo is continuing to do.”
Having finished a best ever fourth in the Drivers’ Championship for the past two of his 11 F1 seasons, Perez is currently on course to go one better – he sits third, 19 points behind second-placed Verstappen with Charles Leclerc out in front by a further 19.
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