Sergio Perez has refocused his goals after recognizing he can’t fight Max Verstappen for this year’s Formula 1 drivers’ championship, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Verstappen and Perez traded two wins apiece at the start of the season, but Verstappen has since gone on a stunning run of eight straight victories — plus two sprint wins — to open up a huge lead in the standings. Perez’s own form dropped off after being beaten in Miami but a solid pair of podiums before the summer break suggests he has turned a corner, with Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko stating he had “woken up from his world championship dream” in recent weeks.
“We know that Helmut is fairly straightforward in some of his analysis,” Horner said. “But look, I think Checo knows that barring a disaster for Max this championship is out of reach, so it’s about him maximizing his own performance, not losing out to any of the drivers behind and trying to pick up a few wins between now and the end of the year.”
Explaining what he feels Verstappen is able to do that Perez can’t, Horner says it comes down to the spare headspace a driver has behind the wheel to handle other aspects other than simply driving the car to its limit.
“I think the like all the great drivers, he just has that extra capacity. What we’re witnessing and seeing with him at the moment is his ability to read the tire, to read a race, extract absolutely everything out of it. It’s great to see. I think he’s just at the top of his form at the moment.”
Between the two drivers, Red Bull has won every race so far this season but Horner also insists there is no part of him that wishes the team was facing sterner competition for victories.
“There’s not one ounce of me — I think I’m still in recovery from 2021. Look, results like (Belgium), it’s the combination of teamwork, it’s about every member of the team, every department in the factory doing their job — you don’t achieve these kind of results by accident. It’s a golden moment for our team and just absolutely take your hat off to everyone behind the scenes who is working as hard as they are to achieve this kind of performance.”