Sergio Perez has the hardest job in Formula 1 as Max Verstappen’s teammate, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Verstappen won 19 of 22 races this year and broke a number of long-standing records, including the one for the highest percentage of maximum points scored in a season. Perez won two of the opening four rounds but never beat Verstappen in another competitive session after the Miami Grand Prix in May, but Horner believes he showed strong mental strength to finish second in the drivers’ standings.
“Checo’s got the hardest job in the pit lane,” Horner told RACER. “I mean, to go up against a generational talent like Max is incredibly tough. And it’s a complete head screw.
“It takes a broad set of shoulders to be able to deal with that and Checo, he’s had a couple of wobbles in the year, but he’s brushed himself down and he’s always got back up. And I really admire that about him. To finish second in the championship, his best ever year, is a phenomenal result.”
That resilience is something that Horner says keeps Perez as the frontrunner to drive for Red Bull beyond the end of 2024, and he says that he will only look at alternatives if the Mexican fails to perform the an acceptable level.
“It is Checo’s seat to lose, and there’s a good dynamic between the two drivers – there always has been; you’ve only got to look back two years to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “So let’s see how 2024 pans out. But it’s very much Checo’s seat to lose rather than exploring other options.”
Perez himself is expecting a step forward in 2024 based on the lessons he’s learned after struggling so much from mid-season onwards.
“I think we’ve got to learn a lot from this year,” Perez said. “Really take the positives and also learn from the negatives, and come back strong next year as a more rounded team. I think we’ve developed a lot as a team this year.
“I think (with) the set-up, we’ve understood a lot of things on that and we should be looking a lot stronger for next year.”