‘We’ve got two VERY mature drivers who work well together’: Christian Horner attempts to diffuse friction in Red Bull’s camp… after Sergio Perez voiced concerns after losing fastest lap to team-mate Max Verstappen
- Red Bull’s Sergio Perez won his first race of the season in Jeddah last weekend
- But Max Verstappen stole the fastest lap off his team-mate in the closing stages
- Christian Horner played down the idea that there is friction in his Red Bull camp
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has played down any friction between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, after the latter raised concerns over his team’s communication in the final laps of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Perez fended off his team-mate to win the second race of the season in Jeddah, after a disastrous qualifying session last Saturday saw favourite Verstappen drop out in Q2 due to a mechanical issue.
The Dutchman fought back with exceptional race pace to cross the chequered flag in P2 and claimed an extra point for the fastest lap, which could prove crucial down the line as he hunts for a third successive world championship.
Verstappen waited until the final lap to steal it off Perez, who looked set to take the lead in the championship for the first time in his Formula One career.
After the race, Perez revealed he was told to ‘keep a certain pace’ on the final lap by his team rather than to push on and protect his fastest lap against Verstappen.
Sergio Perez (pictured) held off Max Verstappen to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last week
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner attempted to diffuse any friction between his drivers
Disappointed that the Dutchman now heads to Australia with a slender advantage in the championship, Perez raised concerns over his team’s intentions.
Horner urged that Red Bull’s plan for Perez was based solely on ‘reliability issues’, with the team eager not to push the car to the maximum in the risk of squandering the Mexican’s race win.
In the final five laps however, seeing as Red Bull had all but claimed their second one-two finish of the season, Horner was happy to ‘let them get on with it’.
‘I think for us as a team, we were concerned about reliability issues, how do we manage that? Once we saw there was no issue that we could see in the data, it was a question of letting them get on with it and basically both managing the last five laps,’ Horner urged.
Verstappen waited until the very end to nab fastest lap away from Perez, earning an extra point
Perez (right) raised concerns afterwards as he was told to ‘keep a certain pace’ on the last lap
‘When you pass those messages on to the driver, of course the team’s interest is to maximise the points. At whatever point you feel you might have a reliability issue, you have to manage that.
‘I think inevitably, as Max said on the radio, the point for fastest lap meant a great deal to him and there was no reason for us not to let him or Checo have a crack at it.’
When asked whether Red Bull anticipate any friction inside the camp this season, with both drivers eager to chase down a shot at the championship, Horner replied: ‘We’ve got two very mature drivers who work well together; they’ve worked well together previously.
‘We discussed the race before the race and said, ‘Look, you are free to race today, but the rules of engagement are team first, respect each other, respect the cars that you are driving’. We [wanted] to bring home maximum points and we’ve done that.’
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