Perez ‘kept banging’ on Horner’s door for Red Bull deal

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner pours champagne on Sergio Perez . Monaco, May 2022.

Red Bull team principal pours champagne over Sergio Perez's head. Monaco, May 2022.

Christian Horner revealed that Sergio Perez “kept banging on my door” in the hope of landing a drive with Red Bull for 2021 – and his decision to give him a new deal was a “no brainer”.

Perez was abruptly left without a seat in Formula 1 towards the end of 2020 after Sebastian Vettel was announced as his replacement at Racing Point, which would eventually become Aston Martin the following year.

The Monaco Grand Prix winner has now signed a new deal with the team that takes him until the end of 2024, and sits just 15 points off the top of the standings, putting him right in the championship fight at the moment.

With Alex Albon in the seat alongside Max Verstappen at the time, Red Bull became Perez’s only viable option to continue in Formula 1 – and Horner said he was certainly persistent when it came to making his case.

Horner told Sky F1 when asked if Perez needed time to mature in Formula 1 before getting his Red Bull drive: “I think so because he had a chance with McLaren, obviously, early in his career so sometimes drivers don’t come back from that if they’ve had an opportunity, but he’s kept plugging away at it.

“He drove such a great season [in] 2020 that he made it very hard for us to ignore his performance and he kept banging on my door and, you know, pushing himself, pushing, pushing, and in the end after he won that race in Bahrain, it was a no brainer.

“Now he’s grabbed this opportunity with both hands and I think that you know, arguably it was too soon for Pierre [Gasly], it was too soon for Alex to step into that seat in a Red Bull Racing car.

“But you know, they’ve still got the opportunity to further their careers and Checo has proved that it’s never too late to come back.”

Perez’s new contract has also had the effect of shutting the door on the likes of Gasly, Albon and more from challenging for a Red Bull seat in the next two seasons.

But Horner believes the team is lucky to be able to pick from such a pool of drivers in the first place, but the Mexican was the standout candidate to keep the seat alongside Verstappen beyond the end of this season.

“We’re in the fortunate position, you know, through the ownership of Red Bull having, effectively, two Grand Prix teams that we’ve been able to invest in young talent, bring it up, and give drivers like Max and Sebastian and Daniel [Ricciardo] and Pierre and so on, you know, this opportunity,” Horner said.

“I think that it was obviously a no brainer for us and totally deserving for Checo to retain that seat.”