Horner on Perez: “It was a horrible weekend for Checo”

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Photo credits: Oracle Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez arrived in Monaco as a strong favourite for victory (despite the form of Max Verstappen) as four of his five career victories in F1 have been achieved at street circuits. With one of those being last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, the Mexican racer was eager to get his title charge back on track. However, a costly error for Perez in qualifying coupled with victory on race day for Verstappen ensured the reigning F1 Drivers’ Champion left the Principality of Monaco with a healthy 39 point lead in the standings. An impressive feat after just 6 Grands Prix and the worst possible outcome for Sergio Perez.

All eyes were on ‘King of the Streets’ Sergio Perez to see if he could reignite his title charge following Max Verstappen’s victory at the Miami Grand Prix. However, after crashing in qualifying during Q1 the previous day, it was expected that the popular Mexican racer faced an uphill battle starting from the very back of the grid – and so it proved to be as he eventually crossed the finish line in P16.

For their part, Red Bull Racing tried to find a way to get Sergio Perez into contention for points by pitting him after the opening lap and switching to the durable hard tyre compound which he hoped to take with him through to the chequered flag.

Unfortunately, for Perez and his many millions of fans, some regrettable decisions and contact with rivals meant returning to the pits during the race was inevitable. All in all, Perez would visit the pits 5 times in total this past Sunday – not quite the one stopper he had been hoping for.

Oracle Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner knew exactly how to describe Checo’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“The race was horrible. It was a horrible weekend for Checo. It went wrong in Q1 and that puts you on the back foot…We took a really aggressive strategy. We stopped on lap one and you could see his pace in free air and how much the others were saving.

“He actually got back within a pit window of Esteban Ocon, and then [Logan] Sargeant and the slow cars were starting to struggle and, of course, you can’t overtake. Then he got involved in a kerfuffle with [George] Russell and damaged the front wing. It was just one of those weekends where nothing went his way,” explained Horner.

However, Perez did well to even reach the chequered flag. A moment Horner reflected on in his post-race remarks to media.

“He had a massive save in the swimming pool, so he probably needed a new pair of underwear after that. It’s just been one of those weekends for him where [he should] turn the page and I would think, for him, the sooner he can get to Barcelona, the better.” stated Horner.

This mindset was echoed by Sergio Perez in his post race comments as he said: “I knew my mistake yesterday was very costly and that was 25 points, so very disappointed. I still have some hope, but I know that I cannot afford another zero in the championship, so I really hope I can be back to my normal level in Barcelona.”

Oracle Red Bull Racing are dominant having claimed a sixth win from a possible six in 2023. With 4 of those going the way of Max Verstappen, Horner was asked if there is a point where the second driver is less of a component in the championship.

“Max is, obviously, at the top of his game and driving incredibly well but, up to his weekend, so had Checo been. It’s a weekend to forget for him but I’m sure he’ll bounce back in Barcelona.”

The man leading Red Bull Racing’s latest double title charge admitted the task now in front of Perez is a hard one but also that “in some ways it takes the pressure off because he’s got nothing to lose now.”

Max Verstappen was always in control on Sunday and particularly impressed when stretching a gap to Fernando Alonso. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez made some uncharacteristic decisions. As such, Horner was asked if calmness was something that they missed with Checo today.

“For Checo, it all went wrong in qualifying, so then you’re on the back foot and I haven’t seen a single overtake here all weekend in any of the Formulae. It was always going to be tough for him,” said Horner.

Monaco 2023 is now in the history books but there are many more races to come this season. For that reason, the expectation that the F1 Drivers’ Championship is heading to Verstappen once more is nowhere near certain. That being said, there will be a lot of pressure on Perez this weekend in Barcelona as he attempts to get back in the title hunt sooner than later. Not only this, but he also has to contend with Fernando Alonso being a mere 12 points behind him in the current F1 Drivers’ standings.

For that reason, in a season which for many is becoming rather predictable, Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix is surely must watch viewing.