Horner: Pérez has “excelled at street circuits”, pushes him “to do it on a normal track now”

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Sergio Pérez secured his sixth F1 victory at yesterday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He beat teammate Max Verstappen in an equal fight. It’s his fifth win with Red Bull — all of them coming at street races.

Although he got fortunate with the timing of the Safety Car — something that has gone against him in the past — he showed superb pace out front to take a brilliant victory.

“Yeah, Checo is definitely living up to his nickname of King of the streets or whatever his latest docuseries is going to be called,” said Christian Horner in his post-race media session.

“So yeah, an incredible weekend by him. Obviously winning the sprint race yesterday.

“Obviously he got a little bit lucky with the timing of the safety car. But having got the lead, he built close to a four-second lead at one point and controlled the race.

“So he used his opportunity and converted it into a great win.”

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull let their drivers race freely yesterday as they had a comfortable advantage over the rest of the field. It wasn’t without worries, however.

Both drivers brushed the barriers with their tyres on multiple occasions at turn 15.

“They were pushing each other hard. I think they were comparing times that they touched the wall under the podium there,” Horner stated.

“We let them push all the way through. That was always the plan going into the race.”

The pace of Pérez in the opening stint already looked strong. After passing Leclerc, he got himself into DRS range on Verstappen before the Dutchman pitted.

A lap later, the Safety Car was deployed as the AlphaTauri of Nyck de Vries had to be recovered. That put the Mexican in front and he never looked back.

“Absolutely,” said Horner when it was suggested it would have been a close fight without the Safety Car. “Checo passed Leclerc and he closed the gap down to Max.

“Then, yes, he got lucky through the safety car. But as I said earlier, he then had to get on and deliver.

“You’ve got Max Verstappen behind you, he’s not taking it easy. He was able to build up, I think, a 3.7 second lead at one point.

“All credit to Checo, he drove a great race today.”

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

A clear weakness for the Mexican since becoming Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull Racing has been on permanent circuits. The Dutchman has tended to hold a very solid advantage on them.

Horner admits he needs to make that next step to challenge Verstappen on those type of tracks. Six points cover the two after the first four rounds.

“I think he just needs to do it on a normal track now,” said Horner. “He’s excelled at street circuits.

“All his victories, I think, certainly for us, have been at street tracks. It’s the second time he’s won here, he won in Singapore, he won in Monaco, he won in Jeddah.

“So, yeah, we just need to get him going on the proper circuits.”

As Horner confirmed they are “free to race”, the Brit says reliability could be a decisive factor in the title race if they continue to hold his current advantage over the field.

“At the moment, there’s a slight gap between the two of them and the rest of the field, but there’s 19 more races to go and five sprint races,” added Horner. “So there’s a huge amount of racing and a whole variance of different circuits to go through.

“It could ebb and flow between the two of them — reliability would be a key factor.”

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool