Red Bull Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez has been clawing his way out of a funk that saw him severely underperform over the last several races leading up to the summer break. There have been rumors claiming that the experienced Mexican is on shaky ground at Red Bull, even though he's the only driver to have won a race this year other than Max Verstappen, and has consistently held onto second place in the drivers' championship. Now, team boss Christian Horner is shutting down the speculation following Perez's fourth-place finish at Sunday's Dutch F1 Grand Prix. Checo won't be going anywhere next season.
"It's easy to beat up on him when the barometer is so high on the other side, but he will be our driver in 2024," Horner said after the race, according to Motorsport.com.
Perez endured a rollercoaster of a grand prix on Sunday that saw multiple periods of rain, unforeseen pit stops, and its fair share of crashes. He was mainly able to stay out of trouble, until he was caught exceeding the pit lane speed limit in the race's closing stages, netting him a five-second penalty. As a result, he dropped from a podium position to fourth place.
"Checo's situation for next year is clear. He's a Red Bull Racing driver. We have an agreement with him," Horner added. "Irrelevant of agreements, we're pleased with the job that he's doing. You saw his drive today, he was unlucky with the pit lane speed limiter."
It's worth mentioning that Horner has oftentimes come to Perez's rescue in the media, whereas Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has done the opposite. Not long ago, Marko was quoted by German outlets saying that nothing is ever 100% sure in F1, not even contracts. Previously, Marko had been critical of Perez and his aspirations of challenging Verstappen, especially when the Mexican was within striking distance of his teammate in the points earlier this season.
"Max is in a period of his career where he's just simply untouchable and I don't think there's any driver on the grid that would be able to achieve what he's been doing in that car," added Horner. "You've got to look at the performance on the timesheet and the results sheet. If Max hadn't been there, Checo would have won another four or five races."
The F1 circus now heads to the iconic Autodromo Internazionale di Monza for one of the most cherished races of the year, the Italian Grand Prix, which will take place Sept. 1-3.
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