Christian Horner says he still believes in Sergio Perez despite the opening lap crash with Charles Leclerc that saw him retire from the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.
Perez, perhaps buoyed by the atmosphere of his home race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, chose the outside line at Turn 1 as he attempted to replicate Max Verstappen‘s 2021 overtakes on Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas but instead he came across Charles Leclerc too tightly.
The Ferrari and Red Bull subsequently collided which led to the Mexican to retire from the race on the second lap with significant bodywork damage, and now his drivers’ standings position is once again under-threat from Hamilton, who went on to finish second.
“Yes, I mean, he’s got three races now to convert that second place,” Horner told the media. “There’s 20 points between him and Lewis.
“He’s had some misfortune, he’s had some issues, but we still believe he can do it between now and the end of the year.”
Reports circulating Formula 1 conversations is that if Hamilton does beat Perez to second in the drivers’ championship, despite driving a car yet to win this season compared to a Red Bull that has won 18 times, then the 33-year-old will lose his drive at Milton Keynes.
But the the Red Bull boss of the world champions explained that the situation is far more dynamic than that.
“It’s not as binary as that,” Horner continued. “You got to look at the circumstances, and so on. Checo [Perez] has an agreement with us for next year, and that’s our intention to get him to be in the car in 2024.
“We’ll give him all the support that we can to ensure that he finishes second but there’s no prerequisite that if he doesn’t finish second, he’s out.”
Gloves are off at Red Bull
Despite Verstappen continuing to expand on a record-breaking season, as he leads the drivers’ championship by 251 points, they would have been free to race in the capital of Mexico if Perez had managed to sneak into the lead of the race.
“It would have been a straight fight between the two,” Horner said. “So it would have been, could have been, an interesting afternoon.
“Checo had good pace this weekend, it was just frustrating that it was a first corner incident. That was my fear going into the race.”
When is the next F1 2023 race?
There isn’t much time for the teams to rest after the Mexico City GP as the circus heads on to Sao Paulo in Brazil to race at the historic Interlagos circuit.
George Russell won the race in 2022, taking his maiden victory in the sport, and every race since 2018 has seen a battle between the Mercedes and Red Bull cars so will 2023 be the same?
Find out with Total-Motorsport.com as the Brazilian GP takes place from November 3-5.