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Perez thanks Red Bull for keeping faith through ‘very tough times’ as he plots 2024 fightback

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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 24: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez has paid tribute to his Red Bull team for sticking by him during his 2023 struggles, vowing to “come back stronger” and deliver a more consistent campaign next time out.

Perez started last season in fine form, taking two pole positions and two wins from the opening five races, but he hit trouble thereafter – particularly in qualifying – and his challenge faded.

END OF YEAR REPORT: Dominance from start to finish as Red Bull and Verstappen hit new heights

While he recovered to get his year back on track and finish second to team mate Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings, a whopping 290 points stood between the pair after the final round.

Speaking at the recent FIA Prize Giving Gala, Perez took a moment to reflect on the season gone by and highlight his motivation to put up more of a fight in 2024.

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Despite a mid-season blip, Perez contributed plenty of trophies to Red Bull’s collection in 2023

“Obviously we started really strongly the year, then we had a bit of a rollercoaster mid-season,” said Perez. “But we didn’t give up, we stuck together as a team, and I want to thank my whole team for supporting me.

“We went through very tough times, but we managed to secure the best season in the history of our team [with the constructors’ title and one-two in the drivers’ championship] and we’ve learned from those difficult moments, [so] we will come back next year stronger.”

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

Perez’s boss, Christian Horner, also offered some words of encouragement – along with a standout target – as the Mexican prepares to enter the final year of his Red Bull contract.

“Being Max Verstappen’s team mate is a very, very tough gig,” said Horner in an interview with Sky Sports. “I think that he’s shown real mental strength to be able to cope with that.

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Perez has been tasked with improving his qualifying form by Red Bull team boss Horner

“Now, the area that he needs to focus on and improve next year is going to be Saturdays, making sure that his average qualifying is a lot closer to Max.

“We know he can race and he’s got great pace, but we need him to be starting further up the grid, particularly if the grid is going to converge, then we can’t afford to have a lot of cars between Max and Checo.”

READ MORE: Horner admits ‘everything is open’ for 2025 Red Bull line-up with Ricciardo back in the fold

With Red Bull facing a decision over who to put alongside Verstappen in 2025, Horner continued: “The car has been very attractive for other drivers to want to be in, so we’re not short of options.

“Obviously there’s no guarantees of anything, but Checo, he’s our driver in 2024, and if he does a great job we’ll want to keep him for 2025, but it’s all going to be about how he performs and how he delivers in relation to his team mate.”

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