Sergio Perez bet with Christian Horner inspired Red Bull lockout in Japan

Max Verstappen took pole position at the 2024 Japanese GP with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez a close second in Suzuka

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In a revealing turn of events at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, Sergio Perez sent a cryptic message to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, hinting that a unique motivation method was behind his exceptional qualifying performance

Perez, who has notably struggled with qualifying pace in recent months, showcased a significant improvement, securing a spot on the front row next to teammate Max Verstappen, which put him in the top two for the first time since the Miami GP in 2023. 

Following the session, Horner‘s congratulatory message over the radio prompted an intriguing response from Perez: “You know how you have to motivate me.”

The ambiguity of Perez’s message has sparked speculation about its meaning. It’s known that Red Bull‘s culture of internal betting among drivers, engineers, and management, including Horner and Helmut Marko, often serves as a unique motivator. 

While typically focused on Verstappen‘s side of the garage, according to Planet F1, Perez‘s comments suggest that such a bet may have influenced his performance in Japan. Additionally, this interaction could hint at ongoing discussions regarding Perez‘s contract renewal, with his current deal set to expire at the end 2024.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull celebrate after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez of Red Bull celebrate after qualifying for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

A Wager Pays Off

The bet between Perez and Horner over Red Bull‘s ability to secure a front-row lockout in Japan paid dividends, with Perez humorously reminding his boss of the most effective way to motivate him. 

Horner‘s light-hearted response, along with reaction from Perez‘s race engineer Hugh Bird, underscores the team spirit and camaraderie within Red Bull.

After Perez’s message, Horner replied: “Haha, well I’ve always known that!” Then Bird got in on the action, stating “It’s very nice of you to share that with me and Woody.”

Perez‘s reflections on his performance underscore the fine margins in F1, highlighting the challenges of extracting the maximum from the car and tyres. Despite concerns over long-run pace, adjustments made ahead of the race aim to improve performance, with Perez optimistic about converting his qualifying success into a strong race result.

“It was close today, but I think the whole weekend has been good. We’ve made some good progress,” Perez told the media after Qualifying in Japan.

“We managed to keep that consistency through the qualifying and now let’s see what we are able to do tomorrow. I don’t think we are looking great at the moment in our long-run pace, but we’ve made some changes and, hopefully, that will translate into a better race pace.”

With his sights set on proving his worth and securing his future at Red Bull, Perez‘s performance in Japan could mark a defining moment in his season and his career.

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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