Christian Horner says Sergio Pérez is ‘ahead of expectation’ at Red Bull Racing after he watched the Mexican claim his first win for the team last weekend at the Baku City Circuit.
Pérez, in just his sixth race with the Milton Keynes-based team, inherited the lead late on when team-mate Max Verstappen saw his own race ended by a tyre failure on the start/finish straight, with the Dutchman crashing his RB16B into the wall as a result.
But despite this fact, Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull, says the Mexican had been showing good race pace all day long in Azerbaijan, and the victory will give Pérez a lot of confidence heading into the rest of his first season with the team.
“We knew he was good around here but we didn’t know he was that good,” Horner is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “He was quick all weekend, and he’s been bang on the pace. The only one lap where he made a mistake was Q3 run one.
“His race pace was phenomenal. Had he not been long at the first stop, he would have been right on top of Max for the overcut at that point as well, such was his pace in clean air.
“So phenomenal for him. The way he was defending Lewis [Hamilton] and controlling, that was a class act. To see him get that victory, it will be great for his confidence. It puts him up to third in the drivers’ championship now. So I think he’s ahead of expectation.”
Despite his start to the season, talks about extending his contract beyond the 2021 campaign will not be brought forward, and Horner says the Mexican is enjoying his time at Red Bull and only needs to keep doing what he has been doing to be in pole position for the seat for 2022.
“I’m really happy with the job that Checo is doing,” said Horner. “We are only on race six out of 23. We’ve got plenty of time. He’s enjoying being in the team. He’s doing a great job and he just needs to keep doing what he is doing.
“It’s great to have both cars up there obviously, and I think that it’s an added string to our bow on a day when you lose your lead car.
“Checo is right there and, to deliver the win, that’s exactly what we’ve been looking for. So I’m delighted for him, and pleased for the team for the amount of effort that’s been going on behind the scenes.”