Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the team are relying on Sergio Perez to apply pressure to the Mercedes drivers in the championship fight.
Perez didn’t figure in the fight for the podium places in the Spanish Grand Prix after qualifying eighth. He suffered shoulder pain on Saturday and spun during Q3. In the race he passed Daniel Ricciardo on his way to fifth.
“I think it’s coming together for him,” said Horner on Sunday evening. “He had an off-day yesterday.
“He was compromised in the race behind Daniel, obviously. But then he didn’t manage to make the headway at a track that’s so difficult to pass.”
Max Verstappen led much of the race in the other Red Bull, but fell to second place behind Lewis Hamilton at the finish. Hamilton was able to make a second pit stop to attack Verstappen on fresh tyres, losing only a position to his team mate Valtteri Bottas, as Perez was further down the order.
“Of course we desperately need him to be in that gap so that Mercedes don’t have the strategic options that they had today,” said Horner. “But I’m convinced that will come for Checo as he finds more confidence and time in the car.”
Horner made a similar comment to Verstappen after the race, referring to Hamilton’s similar win in the Hungarian Grand Prix two years ago. “Unfortunately, like Hungary, they had a free stop behind them, so they had all the options,” he said on the radio.
He said the message was not intended as a criticism of Perez. “The facts are that obviously Checo had been held up,” Horner explained. “So the facts are very clear that obviously the two lead guys were so far ahead of the rest of the pack, as it were, and gave Lewis a free stop as he had in Hungary, he’s only got to get it past his team mate that was never going to be an issue.
“So that’s why we need both cars up there strategically so that option isn’t available to Mercedes.”