Formula 1

Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner Addresses Sergio Perez’s Qualifying Struggles: A Quest for Improvement

Red Bull Racing’s Christian Horner has highlighted Sergio Perez’s need to enhance his qualifying performances in F1. Despite strong racecraft, Perez’s gap to teammate Max Verstappen in qualifying sessions has been a notable concern.

Key Takeaways:

  • Qualifying Performance Gap: Horner has identified a significant gap in qualifying performances between Perez and Verstappen. The Mexican driver finished the season 290 points behind Verstappen, underlining a critical area for improvement.
  • Perez’s On-Track Challenges: Perez faced difficulties throughout the season, particularly evident in his fourth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a penalty, contrasting sharply with Verstappen’s record-breaking victories.
  • Horner’s Analysis: In his interview with Sky Sports F1, Horner praised Perez’s race pace and overtaking skills but emphasized the need for him to start higher on the grid, noting an average qualifying position of ninth.

Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull Racing, recently expressed the urgent need for Sergio Perez to improve his qualifying rounds. This call for enhancement comes in the wake of Perez concluding the season significantly behind his teammate, Max Verstappen, who secured his third consecutive Driver’s Championship.

The 2023 season was a period of record-setting achievements for Verstappen, culminating in a triumphant victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. While Verstappen was basking in the glory of his 19th win of the season, Perez’s performance was shadowed by various challenges, most notably a fifth-place finish in Abu Dhabi due to a time penalty.

In his discussion with Sky Sports F1, Horner recognized Perez’s strengths but also pointed out crucial areas needing improvement. He stated, “I think that the last few races he’s had a bit of a reset though, and his pace when you look at the analysis through this weekend again was strong. He’s just got to sort his Saturdays out. His race pace is there. His racecraft is fantastic. He’s probably overtaken more cars than anybody this year. But we just need him to be starting in the first four rather than ninth or tenth or whatever his average has been over the last few races.”

Perez’s struggle in qualifying sessions stood in stark contrast to Verstappen’s performance. Perez managed to outpace Verstappen only twice in 2023 and frequently found it challenging to advance to Q3 in nine races. With an average qualifying position of ninth, Perez lagged behind seven other drivers, a concerning statistic for a driver in the dominant RB19.

Horner continued, “Well, he still finished second in this World Championship and won some great races and put in some great drives. But I think he knows where his areas to improve are. I think a little bit of a reset in terms of how he goes about his racing next year as well. He knows it’s a big year for him and he’ll take a bit of time this winter to reflect on where he needs to improve and I’m sure he’ll come back fighting next year.”

As the F1 world turns its attention to the next season, all eyes will be on Perez to see if he can close the gap in his qualifying performance and challenge the dominance of his illustrious teammate.

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