Red Bull boss Christian Horner calls Sergio Pérez’s form ‘unsustainable’

Jul 8, 2024 | Sports | 0 comments

Photo by Jayce Illman/Getty Images

Does Red Bull have a Sergio Pérez problem?

Does Red Bull have a Sergio Pérez problem?

That may be the question on many minds as Formula 1 heads into a much-deserved bye week. A European triple-header that took the grid from Barcelona to Austria and then Silverstone has seen Red Bull’s second driver struggle, and the team’s rivals inch closer to them atop the Constructors’ Championship standings.

Silverstone was a week to forget for the Red Bull driver, as he slid into the gravel during Q1 on Saturday and saw his qualifying session end there. He began the British Grand Prix at the back of the field and could not make any progress into the points, finishing 17th.

But Silverstone is just one piece to his current puzzle of struggles.

Pérez has not delivered a podium finish since the Chinese Grand Prix back in April, and his best Grand Prix result since then came at the following race in Miami when he finished fourth at the Miami Grand Prix. Since then he has finished eighth at both the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, seventh at the Austrian Grand Prix (along with an eighth-place finish in the F1 Sprint Race at Red Bull Ring), and then his 17th-place finish on Sunday.

He also has a pair of DNFs over that stretch, in both Monaco and Montreal.

Tally up all the points from this stretch (starting with Imola), and Pérez has added just 15 points to his account. Over that same stretch here is what some of Red Bull’s rival drivers have accomplished:

Lando Norris: 88 points
Oscar Piastri: 83 points
Lewis Hamilton: 83 points
George Russell: 67 points
Carlos Sainz Jr.: 63 points
Charles Leclerc: 42 points

If that was not bad enough, over that same stretch Nico Hülkenberg at Haas has outscored Pérez, 16 to 15.

If this were 2023 it might not be a problem for Red Bull. But this is certainly not 2023 in the F1 world. With the conclusion of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, we have reached the halfway point of the 2024 season, so it is worth pausing to look at just how much has changed from year to year.

Standings at the halfway point (11 races) last year:

Red Bull: 452
Mercedes: 223
Aston Martin: 184
Ferrari: 167
McLaren: 87

Standings at the halfway point (12 races) this year:

Red Bull: 373
Ferrari: 302
McLaren: 295
Mercedes: 221
Aston Martin: 68

A season ago Red Bull was miles ahead of the competition, literally and figuratively. The RB19 was far and away the dominant package on the grid, and despite a similar mid-season swoon from Pérez last year — he added just 51 points over a five-race stretch from Monaco to Silverstone — Red Bull was still able to build that commanding lead in the Constructors’ Championship.

How?

Because Max Verstappen won every single Grand Prix during that stretch.

However, as already stated this year is different. During Pérez’s current downturn, Verstappen has won three times, finished second once (Sunday at Silverstone), and finished off the podium in two other Grands Prix. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc won in Monaco, George Russell in Austria, and then Lewis Hamilton Sunday at the British Grand Prix.

That accounts in large part for the difference in the standings from the halfway point in 2023, and the current state of play in the Constructors’ Championship. As one might say, it is truly “game on” at the sharp end of the grid.

Last year Red Bull could overcome a swoon like this, but 2024 is a much different story, one that Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner described as “unsustainable” following the British Grand Prix.

“[Pérez] knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points – we have to be scoring points in that car, and he knows that,” said Horner after the British Grand Prix. “He knows his role and his target, so nobody is more eager than Checo to find his form again.

“It’s something we’re acutely aware of, that to win the Constructors’ Championship you need both cars scoring.”

Pérez entered the 2024 season facing an expiring contract and rampant speculation about his F1 future. Red Bull thought they ended that speculation early in the season, announcing ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix a new long-term contract with the driver that could keep him in his current seat through the 2026 season.

But this current downturn has only seen rumors about his job security spin back into gear.

“Of course there’s frustration when both of your cars aren’t performing collectively, and I think it was frustrating to lose Checo in Q1 yesterday,” added Horner on Sunday. “He’d missed P1 because of Isack Hadjar driving, he’d had a decent P2, but he should have been around the top six, and to lose that car in Q1 was very frustrating so, yeah, that’s where we’re at.”

There is some hope on the horizon for Pérez, as the team will install a new floor on his RB20, one that Verstappen utilized in Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Beyond that, the next four stops have been fertile ground for the Red Bull driver in the past. Last year Pérez finished third in the Hungarian Grand Prix, the next stop on the F1 calendar. He then finished second at Spa, and after a fourth-place finish in the Dutch Grand Prix, he came back to again finish second to Verstappen at Imola.

Those facts may provide some solace, but there is no denying that Pérez is under pressure to turn things around.

“Checo, of course, he’s under pressure – that’s normal in Formula 1 – but when you’re underdelivering, that pressure only mounts, and he’s aware of that,” added Horner on Sunday. “He knows that.”

Pérez was able to turn things around last year, and it helped him earn a new deal at Red Bull. A similar turnaround will not only help him keep that deal but perhaps help Red Bull fend off a pack of rivals that are closing in.

Fast.

[#item_full_content]Photo by Jayce Illman/Getty Images

Does Red Bull have a Sergio Pérez problem? Does Red Bull have a Sergio Pérez problem?
That may be the question on many minds as Formula 1 heads into a much-deserved bye week. A European triple-header that took the grid from Barcelona to Austria and then Silverstone has seen Red Bull’s second driver struggle, and the team’s rivals inch closer to them atop the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Silverstone was a week to forget for the Red Bull driver, as he slid into the gravel during Q1 on Saturday and saw his qualifying session end there. He began the British Grand Prix at the back of the field and could not make any progress into the points, finishing 17th.
But Silverstone is just one piece to his current puzzle of struggles.
Pérez has not delivered a podium finish since the Chinese Grand Prix back in April, and his best Grand Prix result since then came at the following race in Miami when he finished fourth at the Miami Grand Prix. Since then he has finished eighth at both the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, seventh at the Austrian Grand Prix (along with an eighth-place finish in the F1 Sprint Race at Red Bull Ring), and then his 17th-place finish on Sunday.
He also has a pair of DNFs over that stretch, in both Monaco and Montreal.
Tally up all the points from this stretch (starting with Imola), and Pérez has added just 15 points to his account. Over that same stretch here is what some of Red Bull’s rival drivers have accomplished:
Lando Norris: 88 pointsOscar Piastri: 83 pointsLewis Hamilton: 83 pointsGeorge Russell: 67 pointsCarlos Sainz Jr.: 63 pointsCharles Leclerc: 42 points
If that was not bad enough, over that same stretch Nico Hülkenberg at Haas has outscored Pérez, 16 to 15.
If this were 2023 it might not be a problem for Red Bull. But this is certainly not 2023 in the F1 world. With the conclusion of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, we have reached the halfway point of the 2024 season, so it is worth pausing to look at just how much has changed from year to year.
Standings at the halfway point (11 races) last year:
Red Bull: 452Mercedes: 223Aston Martin: 184Ferrari: 167McLaren: 87
Standings at the halfway point (12 races) this year:
Red Bull: 373Ferrari: 302McLaren: 295Mercedes: 221Aston Martin: 68
A season ago Red Bull was miles ahead of the competition, literally and figuratively. The RB19 was far and away the dominant package on the grid, and despite a similar mid-season swoon from Pérez last year — he added just 51 points over a five-race stretch from Monaco to Silverstone — Red Bull was still able to build that commanding lead in the Constructors’ Championship.
How?
Because Max Verstappen won every single Grand Prix during that stretch.
However, as already stated this year is different. During Pérez’s current downturn, Verstappen has won three times, finished second once (Sunday at Silverstone), and finished off the podium in two other Grands Prix. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc won in Monaco, George Russell in Austria, and then Lewis Hamilton Sunday at the British Grand Prix.
That accounts in large part for the difference in the standings from the halfway point in 2023, and the current state of play in the Constructors’ Championship. As one might say, it is truly “game on” at the sharp end of the grid.
Last year Red Bull could overcome a swoon like this, but 2024 is a much different story, one that Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner described as “unsustainable” following the British Grand Prix.
“[Pérez] knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points – we have to be scoring points in that car, and he knows that,” said Horner after the British Grand Prix. “He knows his role and his target, so nobody is more eager than Checo to find his form again.
“It’s something we’re acutely aware of, that to win the Constructors’ Championship you need both cars scoring.”
Pérez entered the 2024 season facing an expiring contract and rampant speculation about his F1 future. Red Bull thought they ended that speculation early in the season, announcing ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix a new long-term contract with the driver that could keep him in his current seat through the 2026 season.
But this current downturn has only seen rumors about his job security spin back into gear.
“Of course there’s frustration when both of your cars aren’t performing collectively, and I think it was frustrating to lose Checo in Q1 yesterday,” added Horner on Sunday. “He’d missed P1 because of Isack Hadjar driving, he’d had a decent P2, but he should have been around the top six, and to lose that car in Q1 was very frustrating so, yeah, that’s where we’re at.”
There is some hope on the horizon for Pérez, as the team will install a new floor on his RB20, one that Verstappen utilized in Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Beyond that, the next four stops have been fertile ground for the Red Bull driver in the past. Last year Pérez finished third in the Hungarian Grand Prix, the next stop on the F1 calendar. He then finished second at Spa, and after a fourth-place finish in the Dutch Grand Prix, he came back to again finish second to Verstappen at Imola.
Those facts may provide some solace, but there is no denying that Pérez is under pressure to turn things around.
“Checo, of course, he’s under pressure – that’s normal in Formula 1 – but when you’re underdelivering, that pressure only mounts, and he’s aware of that,” added Horner on Sunday. “He knows that.”
Pérez was able to turn things around last year, and it helped him earn a new deal at Red Bull. A similar turnaround will not only help him keep that deal but perhaps help Red Bull fend off a pack of rivals that are closing in.
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