Horner hails ‘outstanding’ Perez, but what did he say on Ricciardo?

Sergio Perez finished third at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix behind Lando Norris and Max Verstappen

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Christian Horner praised Red Bull‘s Sergio Perez for hitting back at his critics as he achieved his second Formula 1 podium in six races at the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, but also talked up Daniel Ricciardo on his return with AlphaTauri.

Perez made Q3 for the first time since early May at the Miami GP but qualified half a second behind Max Verstappen and could only manage ninth, after he’d crashed at the start of FP1.

Sunday was a different story though, as Perez worked his way up the order and secured a welcome third place, earning Driver of the Day honours along the way too.

“I thought he did his talking on the circuit today, which is always great to see,” Horner told the media.”

“That was a big drive for him. Obviously, he has been facing a bit of criticism recently, but I think to go from ninth to third, particularly in the manner that he achieved it.

“I mean, he got his elbows out, he raced hard, his passing manoeuvres on Fernando [Alonso], on George [Russell], on [Carlos] Sainz and [Oscar] Piastri. It was super hard racing today.”

But, Horner did acknowledge Perez, who is 110 points behind Verstappen in the drivers’ championship, still has room to improve in qualifying.

An unassailable one-lap gap to Verstappen was what did for Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon previously in Red Bull‘s second seat, and had Perez started further up the grid he likely would’ve helped score the team’s first one-two since Miami.

“I think he needs to put more emphasis on Saturday,” Horner added. “He was in Q3 obviously, this weekend so I’d take confidence from that. As soon as it starts qualifying in the first couple of rows, and then we’ll be back in business.

“The problem is you guys wind things up, you can go from hero to zero in this business pretty quickly so he’s not immune to that. And I think he responded in the best possible way and did his talking on the circuit and delivered a great performance.”

Horner full of praise for Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo returns to the F1 paddock with a smile for AlphaTauri at the 2023 Hungarian GP | Dan Mullan/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

As well as marking Sergio Perez‘s return to Q3, the Hungarian GP was also the scene of Ricciardo‘s first race in F1 since the end of 2022.

Ricciardo endured a torrid two years at McLaren that left him needing a break from the sport, but he’s been all smiles since his return to AlphaTauri and managed a positive opening weekend.

Ricciardo outqualified Yuki Tsunoda at the first time of asking – Nyck de Vries only managed that twice all season – and though he lost out at the start through no fault of his own, still finished as the leading AlphaTauri.

There’d been rumours that Red Bull were sizing him up as Perez‘s replacement in the top team but the Mexican’s podium has dampened those for now.

“I didn’t get chance to follow too much his race, I think he had an incident on the first lap, which put him out of position, but then he seemed to recover pretty well,” Horner said.

Daniel Ricciardo of AlphaTauri during 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“And I think he’s bringing a lot of positive energy to that team, a lot of direction and I think we’ll start to see hopefully them make some steps forward in the coming races.”

Where is the next F1 2023 race?

With the F1 circus finished at the Hungaroring, we move on to the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix which will a sprint weekend held between Spa-Francorchamps on July 28-30.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, and previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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