Red Bull boss Christian Horner says there are no issues between their driver pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, who are both aware of what the team expects of them.
Talk regarding the health of the dynamic between Verstappen and Perez has bubbled away since the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, a race where Verstappen, already crowned World Champion, refused to yield P6 to Perez who was chasing the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship.
There has not been any real flare-ups since, but with Perez having stated his intentions to challenge for the F1 2023 title off the back of his win in Jeddah, rather than simply support Verstappen’s cause, it has led to renewed expectations that potential fireworks could be lying in wait.
But, team boss Horner certainly does not foresee that being the case, making it clear that there is respect between the drivers, who are getting along just fine as team-mates.
And with Red Bull looking untouchable in these early stages of F1 2023, taking all three poles and wins on offer so far, Horner says both drivers know the conduct expected of them by the team.
“They are two competitive drivers, the relationship is fine, there is a good respect between the two of them,” Horner is quoted by the Formula 1 website. “They both know the responsibility they have driving for the team.
“There’s expectations that come with that, but they’re in a good place. They’ve been a very effective pairing for us, and I expect that to continue.”
But, even if the Verstappen-Perez relationship is not actually a looming threat over Red Bull’s season, Red Bull’s penalty for a minor breach of the 2021 cost cap certainly is.
Red Bull already had the lowest amount of time in the wind tunnel out of any team as the 2022 Constructors’ champs, but a further reduction of 10 per cent means rival teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and especially Aston Martin have an even greater advantage as the F1 2023 development war prepares to spark into life.
Horner admits that this handicap is a “significant” one, while the fact that Formula 1 has undergone a “total cultural change” in recent years with this cost cap adds a further layer of uncertainty.
“I think it will be very tough for us to develop this car, because when you look at the amount of percentage time less we have compared to some of our rivals, it’s significant,” said Horner.
“But it is what it is. We just have to do the best we can with what we’ve got, be efficient, effective, and selective in what we choose to develop, and how we apportion our time.
“It’s been a total cultural change over the last couple of years. It’s a new challenge in Formula 1, how you apply your resources. It used to be a sprint in terms of developing a car as quickly as you could with whatever budget you can rustle up.
“Now it’s a question of how and where do you apply your resources, and of course there are so many variables like crash damage, accident damage in there that can have a massive effect on your potential to develop. It’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out this year.”