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‘We need Checo in the mix’ – Horner calls on Perez to re-find his form as Red Bull rivals turn the screw

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 23: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks with

A run of difficult races for Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has led team boss Christian Horner to urge him to re-find his “fantastic” form from early in 2024.

Perez didn’t finish lower than P5 in the first six Grands Prix of the year, taking four podiums in that time. However, from Imola to Barcelona – during which time he was offered a Red Bull contract extension – Perez’s finishing record has read 8-DNF-DNF-8, with his P8 in qualifying for Barcelona marking his best Saturday performance (although he started P11 due to a penalty).

READ MORE: 5 Winners and 5 Losers from Spain – Who’s up and who’s down after a barnstorming Barcelona?

After a long Sunday afternoon en route to eighth place in the Spanish Grand Prix, Red Bull Team Principal Horner was asked about the Mexican’s current performance levels, replying: “We need Checo [Perez] in the mix. He knows that and the team know that.

Perez already looking ahead to Austria after Spain struggles

“If he's on the back end of the top eight, you lose strategic options, whether you split your strategies and so on. Checo in the first four or five races this year was fantastic. We just need to get him back into that headspace.

“I think that he's had a couple of difficult races, and things haven't gone his way,” Horner added. “He's a confidence-driven driver I think, and I think that hopefully he'll have taken some... you know, he's back in the points here, drove a decent race. Hopefully he'll take some confidence out of that for the following races.

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“Before the race, our simulations said P8 was the optimum from 11th on the grid, so he achieved that today, he did it on a three-stop strategy. I think, and I hope that, he will take quite a bit of confidence out of that race and hopefully take that into the next couple of weekends, which are big weekends for him.”

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 23: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on

Perez was mired in the midfield throughout the Spanish Grand Prix

For his part, Perez – who’s watched team mate Max Verstappen claim seven wins out of 10 so far in 2024, with Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris claiming the other three – said he had at least taken good learnings from an otherwise challenging Barcelona weekend – with Red Bull coming under increasing pressure from rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren.

“It’s been a good weekend in terms of learning, understanding, so hopefully we are able to come back in the coming weekends,” said Perez.

READ MORE: Verstappen pinpoints moment that ‘made my race’ after beating Norris to Spanish GP win

“[Barcelona’s] probably one of the hardest places to overtake, it’s where you damage your tyres the most in dirty air. So yeah, I’m pretty disappointed. But I think given where we started, it was pretty much the maximum we could do.

“We had to really fight hard to get those points because the race wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped it would be, so we struggled quite a bit.”

Perez’s struggles mean he currently sits P5 in the drivers’ standings, behind Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc and Sainz, and a full 118 points adrift of his team mate.

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