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Christian Horner: Perez driving for Red Bull future

Sergio Perez qualified second for the 2024 Chinese GP alongside Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen after improving in the sprint race

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Christian Horner praised Sergio Perez‘s recovery after a chastening 2023 Formula 1 season, as the Mexican completed a Red Bull front-row lockout on the occasion of the teams’ 100th pole position at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

Perez has already recorded more second-places in the first four races of 2024 than he did from Monaco onwards in 2023 and fought his way up from sixth to third in the Chinese GP sprint.

Perez‘s Red Bull contract expires at the end of 2024 with different sides of the negotiation telling different stories of when an announcement will be made, but his performance at the Shanghai International Circuit earned him Horner‘s praise.

“You guys have a tendency to write him off but he’s doing a great job,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “He’s an important part of the team, it’s about working collectively, I think he’s got a great engineering support around him, he feels comfortable.

“He knows he’s out of contract at the end of this season so he’s driving for his future, he responds to pressure in the best possible way, certain drivers respond to pressure and others wilt.

“He’s come into this season with a new frame of mind, he’s relaxed and driving the car really well, not focussing on his teammate, it’s a different approach and I think in the first five races we’ve seen really strong performance from him. So he’s driving well, confidence is growing and hopefully he can convert that into another good result tomorrow.”

Horner expecting rivals to close Red Bull gap

Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull leads Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix Sprint | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen 0.488 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso in third, with Red Bull looking even more dominant than usual in Shanghai – at least after the track had dried out.

And Alonso was the only non-Red Bull driver within half a second of pole position, with McLaren next up and Ferrari unusually uncompetitive at over six-tenths off the Dutchman.

However, Horner insisted Red Bull aren’t resting on their laurels and are expecting their rivals to close up:

“You’ve got to keep your head down, you’ve got to keep pushing forward,” Horner said. “It’s very early in this championship, there’s a long long way to go.”

“All the men and women in Milton Keynes have worked very hard to produce these great cars and as we head back to Europe I suspect updates will start to come for other teams so things can change very quickly, we can’t afford to have any complacency.”

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, 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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