Sergio Perez faced criticism from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner following a disappointing qualifying performance at the Austrian Grand Prix. Despite having the pace to advance to Q3, Perez had three lap times deleted for exceeding track limits at the end of the track, which is owned by Red Bull. Horner expressed frustration that Perez did not adhere to the team’s warnings about staying within the white lines. However, Horner dismissed any speculation about replacing Perez, stating that the team fully supports him.
Horner acknowledged that Perez had the potential to secure a strong grid position, even matching the lap times set by his teammate Max Verstappen. However, the track limit infringements proved costly for Perez, and Horner emphasized the importance of staying within the boundaries. He highlighted that Perez had three opportunities to avoid penalties but failed to do so, and the missed opportunity left Horner feeling frustrated. Verstappen ultimately secured pole position, while Perez will start the race from 15th place.
Despite Perez‘s struggles and the presence of Daniel Ricciardo as Red Bull‘s third driver, Horner categorically denied any possibility of replacing Perez. He reaffirmed that the team fully supports the Mexican driver and dismissed any talk of a potential change. F1 Initiative also reported that Perez‘s position within the team remains safe, with Ricciardo‘s most likely route back to the grid being through Red Bull‘s junior team, AlphaTauri.
Perez‘s contract with Red Bull is set to run until the end of 2024, providing further reassurance about his future with the team. However, his qualifying performance at the Austrian Grand Prix highlighted the pressure he puts on himself to perform. Horner acknowledged Perez‘s potential, stating that he was right there with Verstappen during practice one and was capable of achieving similar lap times. Horner expressed disappointment that a strong qualifying performance could have provided positive momentum for Perez at a crucial time.
Looking ahead, Perez will have an opportunity to make amends during the sprint race on Saturday. This dedicated sprint race format offers another chance for drivers to improve their starting positions for the main race on Sunday. Despite the setbacks in qualifying, Perez will be aiming to recover and deliver a strong performance to contribute to the team’s success in the Austrian Grand Prix.