F1 Azerbaijan GP: “He needs to do it on a normal track,” Christian Horner asks Sergio Perez to prove himself at proper courses, not just street circuits
Christian Horner believes Sergio Perez is proficient at street circuits as they suit his skill set but to become World Champion, he must win on 'proper' race tracks too.
Sergio Perez and Christian Horner via Sports Illustrated
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix proved to be a strong weekend for Red Bull once again, as they reasserted their seemingly insurmountable pace. They finished 1-2, far ahead of Charles Leclerc in third, who was overtaken multiple times by the Red Bulls during the race. Sergio Perez won the race, becoming the first ever driver to win twice at Baku, along with once again displaying his prowess on street circuits.
Out of Perez’s career tally of six remarkable race wins, only one has come at a permanent course, namely his maiden triumph at Sakhir in 2020. After that, every win the Mexican has registered has come at Monaco, Jeddah, Singapore and twice at Baku. He believes street circuits align with his strengths, and he conforms accordingly, finding time through the tight, twisting corners.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner however, expects more from Sergio Perez should he continue to possess the ambition of being World Champion. He said, “He just needs to do it on a normal track. He’s excelled at street circuits – all his victories, 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, won in Jeddah, so just need to get going on the proper circuits.” Max Verstappen is a formidable adversary, and Horner believes that for Perez to beat his teammate, he must excel on ‘proper’ race tracks too.
Nineteen races remain of the twenty-three on the race calendar for 2023, only five of which are poised to be street circuits. These include Monaco, where Perez is the current winner, Miami, Singapore, Montreal and Las Vegas. Should Perez seek to keep his title charge consistent, he must beat Verstappen and take victory outside his comfort zone, namely these street circuits.
Sergio Perez is mounting the pressure on Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen was once again tipped to be the favorite to win the World Drivers’ Championship for the third year running. The Dutchman has encountered resistance however, in the form of none other than his Red Bull counterpart Sergio Perez. The Mexican was initially inducted into the team in the capacity of being Verstappen’s wingman.
However, through the seasons, being at a top, victory accustomed team has facilitated the growth of Perez’s ambitions, and he now seeks to challenge Verstappen, in his third year at the team. The challenger has proven his mettle in his time at Red Bull, and has taken victory at 2 out of the 4 races so far this season, edging out Verstappen in both races.
Perez’s renewed title charge is facilitated by the team’s approval of his request to allow the pair to race unhindered by team orders. With the team no longer placing Verstappen as their number one driver, strategy calls and battling on track will be left to the driver who is quicker on the given day, and is able to extract the maximum from the car. This is the closest the Mexican has ever been to his teammate, and trails him by a mere 6 points.
The momentum that Perez is in possession of will undoubtedly drive him forward in his showdown with Verstappen, but as Horner said, in order to take his crown, the Mexican challenger will have to showcase his adeptness on all permanent courses too, not just restricting his victories and prowess to street circuits where he commonly excels. With him closing in on Verstappen, should he maintain this form on the proper circuits too, it will no doubt be a challenge for the Dutchman to retain his title.
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