Horner muddies the waters over Perez's future


Christian Horner's choice of words when asked about the future of the Mexican appears to pose more questions than answers.

Despite having a contract for 2024, there remains doubt over whether Sergio Perez will partner Max Verstappen at Red Bull next season.

Other than the PR work being done on Daniel Ricciardo's behalf by sections of the media, not least Sky Sports, the Austrian team has a number of other potential replacements on the sidelines as it ponders the future.

While Perez scored a strong result in Brazil, the fact is that in a superior car he was unable to beat Fernando Alonso in an Aston Martin that in recent weeks has appeared to go from bad to worse... and then there was that first corner madness in Mexico City.

Indeed, the Mexican's fluctuating form is leaving Red Bull with a dilemma, and while there is still a good chance he will give the Austrian team its first ever 1-2 in the standings, with the best car in the field at his disposal the result should never have been in any doubt.

While the team has assured Perez that his position is safe providing he wraps up the 1-2, recent comments have suggested otherwise, a situation not helped by Horner's choice of words.

"I thought he drove brilliantly well," said Horner in Brazil. "That result was important for his confidence, that was the Checo we know, and what he's capable of, and that'll give him just the boost he needs.

"For Checo to outscore Lewis by 12 points, it was a very strong weekend for him, with third and fourth from ninth on the grid," he added.

"One of his strengths is that he has a very thick skin," he continued, referring to the constant media speculation, "and many times he's picked himself up, brushed himself down and got back up again."

However, when asked if this means that the Mexican's seat is secure, Horner replied: "I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo will be our driver next year. The clear plan, and therefore the clear intention, is that he will continue."

Ignoring Horner's use of the word "confident" it was more the word "intention" that suggests it is not a done deal.

Picked up on his use of the word, Horner said: "It's only noise on the outside. On the inside everything is always clear.

"I am absolutely confident and clear that Checo will be our driver next year," he insisted. "We have announced the AlphaTauri drivers, we have our Red Bull racing drivers, and that is how we intend to go racing in 2024."

However, as ever with Horner, there was a further twist.

"Now if he was injured or something like that, then there are circumstances beyond your control," he said. "We'll give him all the support we can to ensure that he finishes second, but there's no prerequisite that if he doesn't finish second, you're out."

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Published: 12/11/2023
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