'Great races to come from Perez' says Horner after the Mexican slips from front row to 12th in Imola
Sergio Perez went from hero to zero during the Imola Grand Prix weekend having secured his first front-row start with P2 in qualifying before a disastrous race blotted by a spate of incidents – including two spins. But Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said the Mexican showed glimpses of greatness and insisted he will soon deliver.
Perez fell to third at the start as team mate Max verstappen vaulted into the lead from third on the grid, and was then quickly passed by Charles Leclerc of Ferrari. When the first Safety Car period was deployed for Nicholas Latifi’s retirement, Perez spun behind the Safety Car and rejoined – meaning he was hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty for overtaking rivals to retake his P4 position.
On Lap 38, he spun out of the Villeneuve chicane and eventually finished the race 12th and out of the points. Team boss Horner was, however, supportive of his new recruit.
“It’s just time in the seat. It’s different to what he’s used to,” said Horner on Sunday. “He did a mega job yesterday to put it on the front row, only just missed out on that pole position and there’s great races to come from him in the future.
“You could see in clean air his pace was strong; he just got caught in that DRS train at the end there. But yeah, it was a tough day for all of them today,” he added.
The Red Bull Team Principal admitted that they should have made up ground to Mercedes, who had Valtteri Bottas retire from the race after a spectacular collision with George Russell, and Lewis Hamilton salvage second having beached his car at Tosa halfway through the race – but said Perez has the race pace to come back from his Imola mistakes.
“So tough for him [Perez], and we should have taken some points out of Mercedes today,” said Horner. “He had good pace in the race and there’s still a long, long way to go.”
The drivers’ championship is split by one point as Hamilton took Fastest Lap on his way to P2 at Imola, but Red Bull are seven points behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings heading into May’s Portuguese Grand Prix.