Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has denied that Sergio Perez’s stay with the side in 2024 is dependent on him securing second place in the Drivers’ Championship.

Perez has failed to build on winning two of the first four races, dropping a seismic 226 points behind team-mate Max Verstappen, who has now taken 15 victories this year.

The Mexican’s slump, which has featured eight Q3 absences in qualifying, has enabled Mercedes’ Lewis Hamiton to apply pressure on his runners-up position in the standings.

Prior to the United States Grand Prix, Perez had only amassed five points in three rounds, prompting Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to issue that he “needs a team change”.

But amid increasing speculation that Perez could be ousted early from his contract for next year, Horner insists the 33-year-old will remain alongside Verstappen in 2024.

Asked if Perez retaining second place would be imperative to retaining his drive, Horner said via Autosport: “There’s no pre-mandate like that.

“We’ve never finished first and second in a championship. We finished first and third a few times with Mark [Webber] and Sebastian [Vettel] and we finished it last year with Max and Checo.

“So, with this car, it would be fantastic, in such a season that we’ve had, if we could finish first and second.

“But there’s no pre-mandate on Checo that you have to finish second or you won’t be driving the car next year. That’s never been discussed.”

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day


Horner outlined that Red Bull’s sole intention is to help Perez return to the level that enabled him to consistently battle and support Verstappen at the sharp end.

“We know Checo,” he added. “If you see Checo’s performances in the first part of the year: Bahrain, was very, very tight with Max. The race in Saudi, it was a great race between the two of them pushing each other really hard, with very fine margins.

“His race in Azerbaijan, winning the sprint and the grand prix there. Those are the kinds of performances that we know he’s capable of.

“I think it’s just getting him back into that mind frame and to get the most out of him to get him back to those levels of performances.”

Although Perez’s future is secure for 2024, Red Bull is yet to determine who will partner triple World Champion Verstappen in the team beyond the end of next season.

However, Horner assures that Red Bull have plenty of choices and won’t be in an immediate rush to resolve the matter.

“We are certainly not short of options,” he explained regarding 2025. “Of course, we’ve got plenty of time to look and evaluate that, but there’s so many factors involved.”

Horner has also downplayed drivers shying away from being prepared to go up against Verstappen, who has comprehensively defeated his last three team-mates.

“To beat Max, you’ve got to beat him somehow,” he declared. “I think the amount of interest that we have in being a Red Bull Racing driver in 2025, we’re certainly not short of options.”

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