Horner hails ‘world class’ Perez but says Verstappen was carrying a ‘big wound’ in Singapore
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said Sergio Perez secured his “best victory” in Singapore but sympathised with championship leader Max Verstappen, who had an uncharacteristically tough weekend, qualifying eighth and finishing seventh…
Perez qualified second but jumped pole-sitter Charles Leclerc at the start of the race, with the Mexican driver going on to win by over seven seconds – shrugging off a five-second post-race penalty for dropping too far behind the Safety Car.
“It's without doubt the best drive of his career,” said Horner. “Tricky conditions; he nailed the start, he converted the start, he settled himself into the race, he looked after those intermediate tyres, Safety Cars coming and going, restarts, and he was just always in control – super cool – obviously the crossover onto the slicks, getting them going as well.
“And he just couldn’t shake off Charles, who kept having the benefit of that DRS, and they [Ferrari] were throwing everything at it. One wobble from Charles gave him [Perez] that second break and then he was able to find his stride and a massive, massive result from him, so super proud of him today.”
It wasn’t just the race-winner who said Singapore was his “best performance” in F1, as Horner added: “Absolutely, that’s world class. As I say, that is right up there – that’s for sure his best victory, it even surpasses his Monaco victory; under massive pressure he’s going out, he’s delivered. Just super, super proud of him, he’s done a good job.”
As for Verstappen, who before the weekend said it would be "unrealistic" to secure the championship in Singapore, he qualified eighth after being forced to abort his qualifying lap on Saturday as the team had under-fuelled his car. Having dealt with his car going into anti-stall at the start, before locking up in chase of Lando Norris, Verstappen recovered to P7 by passing numerous drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel late in the Grand Prix.
“Yesterday was the big wound for today,” said Horner, referring to Verstappen's fuel issue in qualifying. “I mean, it was obviously hugely frustrating, but he’s raced hard, he’s raced his heart out today, he’s come through the field twice and those points are vital for both him and the constructors. He gave it everything today – unfortunately, it just wasn’t his weekend.
“He was very patient through the race… then he got an opportunity through the restart, obviously the [tyre] pressures were so low he felt that he bottomed out and picked up a massive flat spot, then had to pit again, came from a massive distance behind, and obviously those last couple of laps – a lot of people were watching the front but the action was going on between Lewis, Sebastian and Max, it was a phenomenal race.”