Perez won two of the four opening races of the 2023 season and, after his victory in the Azerbaijan GP, he was just six points behind Verstappen and touted as a potential title challenger.
The gap was extended when the Dutchman led a Red Bull one-two in Miami. Perez then had a disastrous weekend in Monaco, crashing in Q1 and finishing well out of the points after a fraught race.
Perez again had a scrappy qualifying in Spain that saw him start only 11th. He was able to recover to fourth place in the race.
Verstappen won both the Monaco and Spanish events, further extending his lead, with the gap between the Red Bull drivers now standing at 53 points.
Horner says that with a title challenge currently looking less realistic a solid race in Barcelona will help Perez to relax.
“I think for him that’ll give him a lot of confidence coming out of this,” he said. “He has had a difficult Monaco, difficult Saturday here, a stronger Sunday.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, talk in Parc Ferme
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“And I think that looking at the gap now between the two drivers, which is pretty significant, in many respects that will take pressure off his shoulders, and I think that’ll allow him just to now relax, not put pressure on himself and just re-find the form that he had in those early races.”
He added: “I think that we know what Checo is capable of. We’ve seen in races like Azerbaijan and Saudi already this year, what he’s capable of doing. And I’m sure he’ll re-find that form in the near future.”
The team’s simulations had predicted that Perez could climb from 11th to fifth in Spain, and thus he exceeded expectations.
“The sim said on a clean race P5,” said Horner. “He did one better than that in P4. We felt maybe the Ferrari would have better race pace than it had.
“He was getting within a couple of seconds of the podium as well at the end there, and hunting down George [Russell]. It was a very good recovery, particularly the second half of the race, for Checo.”
- Christian Horner addresses Max Verstappen favouritism as Sergio Perez responds – F1 news round-up
- Sergio Perez told to risk being "thrown out" by Red Bull in Max Verstappen F1 title fight
- Sergio Perez picks F1 2023 ‘turning point’ where he fell away from Max Verstappen
- Mercedes "optimistic" of challenging Red Bull for 2024 F1 title
- George Russell has Michael Schumacher and Max Verstappen belief for future F1 title fight
- Felipe Massa’s lawyers want Lewis Hamilton’s help as they aim to overturn his 2008 F1 title win
- Perez knows the title is 'out of reach barring a disaster for Max' - Horner
- Who could Red Bull sign to replace Perez in F1 2025?
- The old and new problems which added up to another farcical F1 title-decider
- F1 LIVE: Lewis Hamilton snaps back at insult as Christian Horner discusses Red Bull exit
- F1 news: Lewis Hamilton snubbed by old team-mate as Helmut Marko issues apology
- Max Verstappen sets yet another remarkable F1 record after Lewis Hamilton claim
- F1 LIVE: Red Bull fears surface over Max Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton forced to go on diet
- David Coulthard makes offer for F1 return at 52 years old and receives immediate response
- Max Verstappen fires warning to Lewis Hamilton as Red Bull ace plots Mercedes title fight
- Red Bull to continue quest to shatter Mercedes F1 dominance with engine move
- F1 Dutch Grand Prix LIVE: Qualifying updates and results at wet Zandvoort
- Lewis Hamilton hit with legal demand to give up 2008 F1 world title in latest Massa twist
Horner: Perez can relax now F1 title pressure is off have 648 words, post on www.motorsport.com at June 8, 2023. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.