Christian Horner details Red Bull’s struggle to land a competitive teammate for ‘damn good’ Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen has a near perfect teammate record in his F1 career.
Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and Max Verstappen (Via IMAGO)
Red Bull and Max Verstappen have unequivocally dominated the downforce era, clinching consecutive titles. This season stands out as one of the most commanding in F1 history, with Verstappen triumphing in 19 out of 22 races. While Red Bull has showcased supremacy, Sergio Perez‘s two victories pale in comparison. The Dutchman, adept at overshadowing teammates, prompted team principal, Christian Horner to explain the team’s challenge in finding compatibility.
Verstappen has consistently demonstrated superiority over his teammates, with Daniel Ricciardo being the sole exception to have outperformed him. Following Ricciardo’s departure from the team, Verstappen has had three different teammates, each of whom he has consistently outshone. This season, Sergio Perez, out-qualified Verstappen only thrice and secured victory twice.
Despite an ongoing quest for a driver to rival Verstappen, Red Bull has yet to secure a suitable replacement. While rumors hint at Lando Norris potentially succeeding Perez after 2024, nothing has been confirmed. Horner, in a conversation with Motorsport Italy, shed light on the challenges the team faces in finding the right successor, explaining the difficulties encountered in the process.
Verstappen delivered an exceptionally dominant season, surpassing his teammate Perez, who failed to produce the wonders the Dutchman did in a similar car. When probed on why exactly is it not easy for them to find the right teammate for Verstappen, The Briton said:
Because he's damn good. That is the question...
Christian Horner explains the reason for signing Sergio Perez in 2021
Before signing the Mexican, Red Bull extensively debated on a suitable teammate for Verstappen. Alex Albon‘s underwhelming 2020 performance, failing to out-qualify Verstappen and finishing seventh, left the team exploring alternatives. The choices included Pierre Gasly, who triumphed at the Italian GP for AlphaTauri, and Perez, released from his Racing Point contract (now Aston Martin).
The team chose Perez in the end and Horner explains the reasons behind it. He said;
I've known Sergio for a long time, I pushed hard to bring him into the team, especially due to his wealth of experience.
Since 2021, Perez has won five races with the team and helped Verstappen win his 2021 title in Abu Dhabi. Horner acknowledging his contributions said;
I think he justified why we signed him.
📰: Red Bull’s Christian Horner believes that without Max Verstappen as his teammate, Sergio Perez would have won the titles for Red Bull. Despite trailing in points, Horner suggests Perez’s results would improve without Verstappen ahead of him, allowing him to contend for the… pic.twitter.com/keN3KLGOlk— F1 Naija (@f1_naija) September 26, 2023
Perez has secured a two-year extension deal with the Red Bull team that will keep him with the team until the end of next season. In conclusion, Red Bull’s quest for a competitive teammate for Max Verstappen continues, with Christian Horner citing the Dutchman’s exceptional skill as a significant factor in the team’s challenge.
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