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‘He knows it’s a big year’ – Horner picks out what Perez needs to improve on for 2024

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has made clear that Sergio Perez’s main target for the 2024 season will be to “sort his Saturdays out” and avoid the comeback drives he was frequently forced to deliver this year.

Perez started the campaign in fine form with two pole positions and two race wins across the opening five races, applying some early pressure to team mate Max Verstappen, but the Mexican’s challenge faded thereafter.

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Indeed, a run of five events without a Q3 appearance from Monaco to Great Britain severely compromised his points return and gave Verstappen a largely smooth run to a third successive drivers’ championship.

While Perez rediscovered some of his lost form as the season wore on, the final seven Grands Prix again exposed a weakness over one lap, with his average qualifying position coming in at 8.8 while Verstappen charged to four poles.

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Perez took the fight to Verstappen early in the season but could not maintain his challenge

Speaking to Sky Sports at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Horner commented that while he has been pleased with Perez’s race-day efforts, his driver often made life more difficult for himself with sub-par qualifying performances.

“I think the last few races he’s had a bit of a reset,” Horner said. “His pace, when you look at the analysis through [the Abu Dhabi] weekend, again was very, very strong. He’s just got to sort his Saturdays out.

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“His race pace is there, his race craft is fantastic, he’s probably overtaken more cars than anybody this year, but we just need him to be starting in the first four rather than ninth or 10th, whatever his average has been over the last few races.”

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Verstappen ended the year with 290 more points than Perez, whose contract expires at the end of 2024, and as rivals push to close the gap over the winter, Horner is aware that both drivers need to play their part if Red Bull are to continue their recent run of success.

“He’s still finished second in this world championship and won some great races, put in some great drives, but I think he knows where his areas to improve are,” Horner added. “I think [there will be] a little bit of a reset in terms of how he goes about his racing next year as well.

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“He knows it’s a big year for him and he’ll take a bit of time this winter to reflect on where he needs to improve and I’m sure he’ll come back fighting next year.”

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