Christian Horner has comprehensively stated that no Red Bull driver is preferred over the other following criticism of the team over the way strategy played out and radio communications to Sergio Perez, as Max Verstappen swept to victory at the 2023 Miami GP.
Verstappen came from ninth on the grid at the 2023 Miami Grand Prix as he extended the life of his hard tyre more than expected, and ultimately passed polesitter and teammate Perez with 10 laps remaining.
The team came under criticism from fans as that they felt Red Bull gave Verstappen the best strategy and failed to fully inform Perez of what his teammate was doing during the Grand Prix.
“Strategy is obviously discussed. All of the numbers are run overnight, and we weighed up the pros and cons as an engineering team.” Horner said to reporters after the race in Miami.
“And Max was keen to give that alternative strategy a go, and I was happy to sign it off and say ‘If that’s what you want to do then that’s okay.”
A second moment of controversy was sparked by Sky Sports F1’s commentary team as they suggested that Perez was not being updated with his teammate’s lap times but Horner dismissed this too.
“I think it was a mistake of the commentary though, because Checo was very clear on what he had to do.
“19.8 seconds was a magic number, and he [Perez] was getting every single lap the gap to Max.
“So as long as he knows Max is within the magic 19.8s, he knew that he was behind him and he could obviously work out how if he was 16 seconds behind then there’s three seconds between them.”
Red Bull drivers free to fight
Miami was one of the few times Verstappen and Perez have gone wheel to wheel on even terms, and Horner said that the pair are well within their rights to do so.
“We discussed this morning and said, ‘You’re free to race, but just keep it clean and respect the team and respect each other’,” Horner said.
“And I felt they did that today, I mean, they [Verstappen and Perez] raced each other firmly but fairly and they gave each other enough space and respect.”