Horner: Red Bull “not short of options” if Perez doesn’t perform well in 2024 F1 season

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Red Bull F1 team boss Christian Horner believes the Milton Keynes squad wouldn’t have issues in finding replacements for Sergio Perez ahead of the 2025 F1 season, should the Mexican not deliver the expect performance step in 2024 – particularly in qualifying.

Photo Credits: Red Bull Content Pool

Sergio Perez’s 2023 season started strongly, with two wins out of the first four races, Perez looked a serious contender to challenge Max Verstappen for the title. But he started to suffer after a huge blow at the fifth round in Miami, and entered a slump which saw the Mexican fail to reach Q3 for several races and saw Verstappen’s championship lead grow exponentially.  While he eventually recovered his more usual form, there were still isolated cases in which he missed Q3 when his team-mate was easily through, like at the Qatar GP.

And whilst he retained his seat for the 2024 season, there’s no guarantee that it will be his come 2025, given his contract expires at the end of the year. Speaking to PlanetF1, Christian Horner made it clear that it’s up to Perez to show a step up in performance in the 2024 season in order to keep his seat for the next year:

“It’s Checo’s [Perez] seat,” Horner said. “He’s in the car because we believe he’s the right driver now. It’s down to him over the next nine months to demonstrate that we feel that way for 2025.”

The 50-year-old is adamant that the team is not short of available replacements for the Mexican should he not be up to standard with his performances in the new season, making it clear that there is plenty of interesting in that second Red Bull seat up and down the grid:

“Of course, we’ve got great talent in the pool with Daniel [Ricciardo], with Liam [Lawson], with Yuki [Tsunoda]. So time will tell.

“The car has been very attractive for other drivers to want to be in so we’re not short of options,” Horner pointed out. “You can imagine that when you’ve got a car that’s won all bar one race, it’s pretty appealing to any driver on the grid.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Red Bull boss explained how stable regulations could mean a converge of performance between all the teams in 2024, and with margins as tight as they have already been in 2023, any qualifying mishaps from Perez could be even more costly in 2024:

“The area that he needs to focus on improving is going to be Saturdays. Making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max because we know he can race and he’s got great pace, but we need him to be starting further up the grid.

“Particularly if the grid is going to converge then we can’t afford to have a lot of cars between Max and Checo.

“So we need both drivers as tightly bunched as we can in order to ensure that we do our utmost to defend both titles.”

However, Horner still defended his driver, and is confident that the Mexican has the experience to make the necessary improvements and arrive at the new season “firing on all cylinders”:

“The conversations that we’ve had over the winter, I think, have all been very positive.

“I think he [Peréz] knows what he’s got to do, he’s been around the sport long enough, and he’s got enough experience.

“So I’m sure he’s going to come in firing on all cylinders.”