“Sergio Perez must strive to beat Max Verstappen, otherwise why is he competing?” : PlanetF1

Sergio Perez must do his best to beat teammate Max Verstappen to the world title, otherwise ‘why is he competing?’ says team boss Christian Horner.

But, in the end, the Mexican driver knows “exactly what is expected of him” from the Red Bull team.

What exactly it is, Horner does not say.

Joining Red Bull in 2021, handed a lifeline after it looked like his career was over with his exit from Racing Point, Perez was unable to match his new teammate for pace and fell quickly found himself moving to Verstappen. Not once, but twice.

He finished the season in an award-winning role as a winger, holding off Lewis Hamilton in the decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to help Verstappen close the gap on the Mercedes driver.

Verstappen won the race and the title, praising Perez for his efforts that day.

2022 was a tough story as Verstappen didn’t help one bit, claiming 15 wins and a second world title, while Perez was a distant third in the championship.

He did, however, help Red Bull lift the Teams Trophy with three races to go, with the Milton Keynes side concluding that at the United States Grand Prix, such was their advantage over Ferrari.

Red Bull wants more of the same this season.

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“I think Checo knows exactly what is expected of him,” Horner said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

“And I think being Max Verstappen as a teammate is quite a daunting prospect for any driver. But I think Checo handled that really well.

“Of course he was an integral part of us winning the constructors’ championship and finishing very close to third in the championship last year, and winning two grands prix.

“Checo has evolved since he joined the team in 21.”

But while Perez knows what Red Bull expects, Horner doesn’t let us know what that entails.

Although last season the Briton more than once stated that both drivers were free to fight for the league title, it was widely speculated that if it came down to that Perez would be Red’s number two Bull.

When asked if he “doesn’t really see” Perez challenging Verstappen for a championship, the team boss replied: “I think a season with the form Max was in…

“Of course he’s the man to beat, he’s the reigning world champion, and Checo has to fight for that, otherwise why are they competing?”

“But I think the reality is, in all likelihood, Max over the course of the season will probably be the most likely candidate for the world championship.

“But Checo also has the ability to be there and we need both drivers to be at their best for the constructors’ championship.”

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