Max Verstappen, who dominated the 2022 season, took the driver’s title at the Japanese Grand Prix, followed by another championship win for the team at the Austin Grand Prix. The Dutch driver also made history by setting two new records: the most race wins in a single season, with 15, and the most points earned in a season, with 454.
Perez, on the other hand, had a strong third-place finish in the championship with two wins at Monaco and Singapore and a total of 149 points.
As Perez enters his third season with Red Bull, Horner stated that the Mexican driver has the ability to challenge Verstappen but probably won’t this season. In an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, Horner explained:
“Max’s form makes him the man to beat. He’s the reigning World Champion, and Checo has to strive for that. If not, why bother competing?
“However, I believe that Max is likely to be the stronger candidate for the World Championship this season.
“But Checo has the capability to keep up and both drivers need to perform at their best for the Constructors’ Championship.”
Horner went on to say that Perez knows what is expected of him and being Verstappen’s teammate is a daunting task. He added:
“Checo is aware of what is expected of him, and being paired with Max is a challenge for any driver.
“However, Perez has handled it well and was crucial in helping Red Bull win the Constructors’ Championship [in 2022]. He also had a close finish in third place in the [Drivers’ Championship], and won two Grand Prix [in Monaco and Singapore].
“Since joining Red Bull in 2021, Perez has shown great development.”