Sergio Perez’s glaring Max Verstappen message as Christian Horner reveals weakness

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez arrives at the circuit ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend. Silverstone, July 2023.

Sergio Perez arrives at the circuit ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend. Silverstone, July 2023.

Sergio Perez admitted there was “nothing I could have done” to keep Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at bay in Belgium, with Christian Horner revealing tyre degradation was an issue for Perez.

While Perez took the lead from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the opening lap at Spa-Francorchamps, Formula 1’s dominant force Verstappen, starting P6 after a five-place grid drop for taking a new gearbox, was always expected to work his way back through into P1.

And by Lap 17 he had cleared Perez and went on to win with a margin of 22 seconds over his team-mate.

Sergio Perez could do “nothing” to stop Max Verstappen

And speaking immediately after the race, which Perez went on to finish P2, the Mexican racer reflected positively on his race and result, even if Verstappen was in another league.

“It was a good race for the team,” he said.

“We had a great start, so managed to get through Charles, which was one of the targets for today.

“And from then on I was just doing my own race and then Max came through in the second stint pretty fast, so nothing I could have done there.

“And then afterwards it was just about making sure we brought it home safely without too much damage to the car.”

Perez now goes into the summer break following back-to-back podiums, and now feels he has got himself back on the right path after that severe dip in form eliminated him from the World Championship fight against Verstappen.

Asked if he has now got his balance back, Perez replied: “Yeah, certainly. I really look forward to don’t leave the podium anymore from now until the end of the year.

“It’s been a bit of a rough patch, but I think we have recovered and today we managed to score great points for the team.”

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Christian Horner discusses Sergio Perez struggles

Red Bull team boss Horner hailed Perez’s start and first lap as “excellent”, but with Perez apparently not as comfortable as Verstappen on the medium tyres in his second stint, while suffering from tyre degradation on the softs in his first and last stint, Verstappen was able to streak clear out front.

“I thought his start, his first lap was excellent,” said Horner.

“The first stint I think he was going okay, I think the medium tyre he wasn’t as comfortable on as Max and it was after that first pit stop that Max really came alive and then it was a question of managing things to the end of the race.

“Max was got his head down, Sergio was managing, we were concerned about tyre deg, particularly in that last stint on the soft tyre. We’d seen some deg on the first stint.

“So it was two different approaches to that final stint.”

Perez is now 125 points behind runaway Championship leader Verstappen.

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