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Horner says Perez had a 'sensational weekend' at Baku as Red Bull take their 25th 1-2 finish

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 30: Race winner Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner hailed Sergio Perez as "outstanding" after the Red Bull driver took his second Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory with a commanding drive on Sunday in Baku.

Perez has a knack at winning on street circuits having taken P1 at Monaco, Azerbaijan, Singapore and Jeddah in the past – and on Sunday the Mexican became the first driver to win more than one Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

He started third but passed pole-sitter Leclerc soon afterwards, and inherited the lead having stopped during the Safety Car brought out by Nyck de Vries’s stoppage – while team mate Max Verstappen stopped just prior to the Safety Car being deployed.

READ MORE: Perez leads Red Bull one-two in dramatic Azerbaijan GP to cut Verstappen’s championship lead

“He’s had a sensational weekend. He’s always been outstanding at this track; I don’t know what it is about Azerbaijan but he absolutely excels here. He got a little lucky with the Safety Car today but then he converted that and he pulled a gap and he had the pace and he really controlled the race. So phenomenal drive by him all weekend,” said Horner, who explained why Verstappen missed the opportune time to stop.

“It was the optimum time to stop from a performance point of view, but De Vries hasn’t hit the wall there; the engine is still running, and to us it looked like he was just going to reverse out and go from there, so we’d already committed to the stop.

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Perez takes Leclerc for P2 at Turn 1

“Of course, 20:20 vision, 20:20 hindsight’s always going to say ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’, but sometimes, things like that just don’t go your way and [Max’s] misfortune was Checo’s good fortune.”

The Red Bull Team Principal added that championship leader Verstappen “didn’t seem quite as comfortable” as Perez on a weekend that saw just one practice session before qualifying.

READ MORE: ‘I learned a lot of things’ – Verstappen takes the positives from Baku despite losing out to team mate Perez

“What you’ve got to think as well, he was obviously leading the Grand Prix, then the incident happened. I think that he didn’t seem quite as comfortable with the set up of his car as Checo did.

"He was obviously talking about the rear tyres already prior to that stop. And I think track position, when you’re in the dirty air, there wasn’t a lot of overtaking in that race, and that probably didn’t help his tyres as well.”

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Sergio Perez crosses the line in Baku to take his second victory of the season

Heading to Miami, the two Red Bull drivers are split by just six points – and Horner said the team would focus on scoring even more before heading back to Europe, where teams are expected to bring their first significant upgrade packages of the season.

READ MORE: Perez relieved his tyre ‘didn’t blow up’ en route to becoming first ever multiple Azerbaijan GP winner

“I think we’ve got, what, 19 races, five more Sprint races to go, there is a long, long way, and I think that, we know that other teams will come with upgrades to Europe, so we’re just going to keep the hammer down, keeping trying to get the results and that was our 25th one-two finish as a team. Great to get those points early in the championship.

“Miami, different challenge, humid, hot, different surface. I think they’ve resurfaced part of the track there; again a track you can overtake at. We expect Ferrari to be strong there again, particularly on Saturday, and then we’ll see how the tyres behave on the Sunday,” said the Red Bull boss.

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