After Sergio Perez’s race management masterclass during yesterday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Christian Horner admitted being impressed with his second driver being ahead of the expectations.
After the departure of Daniel Ricciardo, a frustrating scheme made its appearance within Red Bull – the team had almost no chance of winning races with a DNF of their Dutch prodigy, Max Verstappen.
However, a breeze of fresh air has recently arrived in the team with the recruitment of a driver who is not coming from the Red Bull driver academy. After his arrival in the Austrian team, Perez admitted having the goal of adapting to his single-seater after just five rounds.
Nonetheless, after the Monaco GP, the general conclusion pointed towards a doubling of the adaption time required for the Mexican driver, following a difficult performance streak.
This was before the Azerbaijan GP, where Perez admitted finally starting to understand his new car and surpassed the expectations, proving to be faster than his Dutch teammate on some laps.
The qualifying session was once again a bit of a low point in the overall performance of Perez, who qualified in P7 after consecutive red flags that prevented the two Red Bull drivers from improving their starting position.
On Sunday, the Mexican driver showcased an amazing race pace and for the first time in months, a 1-2 finish seemed promised to Red Bull. Verstappen eventually crashed due to a tire failure, leaving Perez in the first position at the race restart, closely followed by Hamilton. After the seven-time world champion failed to negotiate the first corner, the Red Bull driver simply recited his score, claiming first victory with his new colors after just 6 rounds.
After this unforeseen but full of flavor victory for Red Bull, Horner could only praise the performance of his second driver, admitting being surprised by the Mexican that exceeded all the expectations in Azerbaijan.
“I’m really pleased with the job that Checo is doing,” Horner said.
“We knew he was good around here but we didn’t know he was that good.”
“It’s great to have both cars up there obviously.”
“I think it’s an added string to our bow on a day that you lose your lead car that Checo’s right there to deliver the win. That’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.”
“The way he was defending from Lewis and controlling that was a class act. To see him get that victory will be great for his confidence. It puts him up to third in the drivers’ championship now. He’s ahead of expectations.”
“His race pace was phenomenal. Had he not been longer [on his marks] in the first stop, he would have been right on top of Max with the overcut, such was his pace in clean air. Phenomenal for him.”
“I’m delighted for him and pleased for the team with all the amount of effort that’s been going on behind the scenes.”