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1 Month After Lewis Hamilton’s Threat, Christian Horner Clings On to Last Bit of Hope for Crumbling Sergio Perez

Published 09/29/2023, 8:15 AM EDT

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The fight for second-best… or the first loser. Whatever you want to call it. It’s a position no Formula 1 team or driver would like to fight for, but everyone has had to settle for in 2023. Well, everyone other than Red Bull and Max Verstappen. As soon as the season started and Red Bull unleashed the RB19, every other team had to stray its eyes away from that P1 in both championships for another year. Considering the RB19 is the fastest car on the grid, you would think Sergio Perez would be just as close to sealing P2 in the championship as Verstappen is to P1. That isn’t the case.

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Another season, another disappointment from Perez. At the start of 2023, the Mexican was genuinely in the title fight. But since the Miami GP, his performance has crumbled. What’s worse? It hasn’t stopped crumbling. What’s even worse? His P2 is under threat from Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull has pinned its hopes on Sergio Perez


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As an F1 driver, you’re constantly battling for two things—your team’s glory and your own. For Hamilton, that battle for P2 with Mercedes is just starting to pick up, with Ferrari closing in. But his fight for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship has been on since the Dutch GP. When F1 returned after the summer break, Hamilton said, “My goal is to try and figure out how to have the best 10 races I have ever had in the second half of the season. We’ll be maximizing points every weekend, holding onto second in the Constructors’ Championship. And chasing down Perez—that’s my goal.”

Hamilton made his intentions clear in Zandvoort, but Perez doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. While the Dutch and Italian GP were good races for him, Singapore and Japan have been nightmares. That’s where Hamilton capitalized on Perez. Now, they’re separated by just 33 points with 6 races to go, 3 of which are Sprint weekends. The seven-time champion has the momentum, but Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has faith in Perez. In a recent interview, Horner said, “We’ve never finished 1st and 2nd with any of our drivers in the championship, so it would be a big thing for us to achieve.”


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He continued, “[Perez] came close last year. It would be his best-ever result. And he’s got the best car that he’s ever had to be able to try and achieve that result. I’m sure there are enough races with the six Grands Prix remaining for him to achieve some great results. Perez will have to channel some of his 2021 fighter spirit to give Horner and Red Bull what they want. Even though they sealed their sixth Constructor’s Championship in Suzuka, they want more. Understandably so. More importantly, he needs to pick up his game because Lewis Hamilton is showing no signs of slowing down.

While Verstappen single-handedly secured that feat for his team in Suzuka, Perez was having a nightmare of a weekend. Even so, Christian Horner had words of encouragement for the Mexican.

Perez will bounce back after the Suzuka horrors

As Verstappen crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Lando Norris, Perez sat in his garage, rethinking how it all went wrong. A first-lap incident with Lewis Hamilton left Perez’s front wing damaged. When he rejoined the race with a new wing, an overtake attempt on Kevin Magnussen ended with more front-wing damage for the Mexican. That’s when his team decided to retire his car.


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In the post-race interview after Red Bull sealed the championship, Horner gave his thoughts on Perez. He said, “[Perez] went through a few front wings today, but he will bounce back in the next races. I am sure. He has been a big part of securing this championship as well. It’s very fitting to win this championship here, in front of Honda.” Now that the Constructors’ Championship is in the bag and Verstappen will likely seal the Drivers’ Championship in Qatar, Perez can entirely focus on himself and sealing that P2.


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Who do you think will come out on top? Sergio Perez or Lewis Hamilton?

WATCH THIS STORY | Fans Expose Max Verstappen’s Bizarre Reaction to Fernando Alonso’s Cold-Blooded Warning to Teammate Sergio Perez

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan


One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar