Despite what appeared to many that Red Bull shafted Max Verstappens’ team mate, Sergio Perez, Christian Horner believes his team made the “right decision” at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday. Sergio Perez, who was leading the race at the time, was ordered to let his team-mate Max Verstappen through to take victory. It appeared that Perez wasn’t being allowed to perform his trump card of preserving tyre life demonstrated many times before over the years.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, Sergio Perez who was on a two-stop strategy, found himself leading the race in Barcelona on Sunday, but his team asked him not to impede the comeback of team-mate Max Verstappen, who was on a three-stop strategy. The Mexican did so and let the Dutchman through, who went on to win for the third time in a row after Imola and Miami. Sergio Perez immediately switched to a three-stop strategy to take the fastest lap point in the race on soft tyres.
What is apparent is how Perez is moved immediately for Max yet he has to blow his fresh tyre advantage sitting behind Max later on. What is also clear is that Red Bull has stacked all cards to Max, further, all lap time delta advice is all relative to beating George, not winning the race and challenging Max.
The pure frustration of Perez is easily heard on the team radio (see video player below). The team clearly say that he will get his chance later on, which he doesn’t.
After the race Perez was annoyed at potentially losing a win in Barcelona after following his team’s “orders”, and the Mexican said he would have a discussion with Red Bull in the next few days. However, on the team management side, Christian Horner explained that Sergio Perez had a clear tyre disadvantage over his team-mate and it was for this reason in particular that Red Bull asked him to let Max Verstappen through. For Perez, the frustration was obvious, with the Mexican who is known to be the best of the field for extending tyre life, it appeared Red Bull had totally shafted Verstappen’s team mate.
“I think the problem we had was that we could see – as I think the other cars could – that we had very high water, oil and brake temperatures and the last thing you want when you have both cars leading is to risk a retirement because you can potentially seal a one-two,” Horner explained after the race in Barcelona on Sunday night.
“They [Verstappen and Perez] had different strategies, so it wasn’t a straight fight. Max had such a tyre advantage and of course Checo’s [Perez] tyres wouldn’t have survived to the end I think.
“That’s why he stopped towards the end of the race to get that precious fastest lap [which earns a bonus point].
“Our responsibility is to bring both cars home with as many points as possible. And of course, what Checo couldn’t see was that he had a long stint to do on the Medium tyre and Max had such an advantage with his tyres that it was just not worth taking that risk [to let them fight], especially with intermittent DRS [on Verstappen’s Red Bull] and with temperatures going up and down. So it was absolutely the right thing to do.”
Horner added that he fully understood Sergio Perez’s frustration after the race finish and revealed his intention to have an “open” discussion with his driver ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix scheduled for later this week.
“We will discuss it openly. I think he will see the race, the replay of the race, and he will see that he had about 30 laps to do on the Medium tyre to cover Russell. So in the heat of the moment you can understand, he’s a race driver. If he wasn’t pushing that kind of stuff, he wouldn’t be doing his job.”