Christian Horner has claimed that the “no fighting” message that Sergio Perez received during last weekend’s Azerbaijan GP “wasn’t strictly team orders”.
Horner revealed that the team simply chose to prioritize Max Verstappen given his superior race pace compared to Perez, and hence asked the latter to move out of the way. Speaking to Crash.net, the Briton said:
“[It] wasn’t strictly team orders. It was just a question of you’ve got a faster car and a slower car and Max [Verstappen] had a significant pace advantage on Checo [Sergio Perez] at that point, and Checo had quite heavy graining on his tyres. So, it was a question of ‘guys, let’s not put each other against the pit wall here if one car is quicker…concede and let’s focus on getting the best result for the team’.”
The 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP was the second time in three races when Sergio Perez was asked to move out of the way for Max Verstappen by Red Bull. Given the team’s show of support following the Mexican’s emphatic victory at Monaco, the instruction at Baku seemed odd.
Christian Horner has, however, clarified that the decision was not intended to favor Verstappen in the championship, but rather borne out of Perez’s lack of pace in the latter stages of the race. He said:
“The pace difference between the two drivers was so significant. We’d discussed it in the morning that if you are racing, just give each other space and they did that.”
Qualifying focused setup in 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP hurt Sergio Perez’s chances during the race
Christian Horner has attributed Sergio Perez’s dramatic loss of pace during the latter stages of the 2022 F1 Azerbaijan GP to an error in setting up the car. Horner believes the Mexican put too much weight behind the qualifying performance, choosing a setup that overburdened his tires during the race. He said:
“I think maybe, with the benefit of hindsight coming into this weekend, perhaps there was too much weight put behind his qualifying set-up with the rear deg[radation] he experienced.”
Despite a stellar start to the race that saw him snatch the lead on Turn 1 from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Perez was ultimately forced to settle for P2 behind his team. Nevertheless, the result made him the most successful driver in the Baku City Circuit’s history, having taken three podiums and a victory.