On Friday afternoon Perez qualified third for the Spa-Francorchamps race, behind team-mate Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
After Perez completed his last qualifying lap, team principal Christian Horner communicated through the radio to congratulate the Mexican driver. In response, Perez humorously remarked, “Ah, now you decide to talk to me…”
Horner responded by saying, “I’m willing to have a conversation with you. I specifically mentioned the top five, my friend. You’ve exceeded all expectations.”
Fans on social media started to create their own narrative about a potential disagreement between Horner and his driver, as the exchange gained momentum.
Perez clarified the hidden humor in the conversation during the press conference after the race, which was misunderstood due to being taken out of context.
Perez stated that it was a jest. He mentioned that before the qualifying round, someone said, “If you don’t secure a position within the top three, I won’t engage in conversation with you for the remainder of the weekend.”
Therefore, he engaged in conversation with me for the duration of the weekend.
Horner responded humorously when asked by Motorsport.com to explain the statement. He jokingly mentioned that he had informed the person in question that he would only engage in conversation if they were among the top five, and playfully added that he would apply pressure to a certain body part if they failed to meet this criteria.
“We’ll need to attempt that again in Zandvoort since it appeared to be effective…”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Perez’s performance in the qualifying round was a notable improvement, as he had been unable to make it to the Q3 shootout for five consecutive races and had only achieved ninth place in Hungary.
After being overtaken by the formidable Verstappen before reaching the halfway point, Perez ultimately secured the second position in Sunday’s race.
Horner is confident that the outcome at Spa will boost Perez’s confidence as he heads into the summer break. This comes after experiencing a series of disrupted weekends and witnessing Verstappen dominate the drivers’ championship.
“I think he’ll have taken a lot more confidence out of this weekend,” Horner added.
“He placed it in the front row. He took the lead in the grand prix, came in second, and currently holds a solid second position in the drivers’ world championship. Therefore, I believe he will gain some confidence from this experience.”
I believe Checo is aware that unless something catastrophic happens to Max, winning this championship is highly unlikely.
Therefore, the main focus is on him enhancing his own performance, avoiding being overtaken by any of the drivers trailing behind, and striving to achieve several victories before the year concludes.
Alex Kalinauckas also contributed to the reporting.