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Horner: More relaxed Perez no longer focused on Verstappen in F1 2024

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Sergio Perez no longer focusing on team-mate Max Verstappen is helping him perform better in the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 3rd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, after the Sprint Race

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Perez enjoyed a solid start to the year with three podiums in four races, all runner-up spots to Verstappen.

Those performances have strengthened his position within the team as it is weighing up whether to renew the Mexican's expiring contract or bring in new blood for 2025 and beyond, with plenty of free agents on the market for next year.

Last year, Perez appeared to struggle under his own expectations of being able to match Verstappen, with two early wins igniting early world-title aspirations.

But Horner felt Perez adjusting his mindset for this season, by no longer being focused on what Verstappen is doing, has made him more relaxed behind the wheel.

"You guys have a tendency to write him off but he is doing a great job," Horner told Sky Sports F1.

"He has come into this season with a new frame of mind, he is relaxed, he is driving the car really well.

"He is not focused on his team-mate, it is a different approach and in the first five races we’ve seen a really strong performance from him.

"He is driving well, his confidence is growing and hopefully he can convert that into another good result tomorrow."

Horner added that Perez is responding well to the pressure of fighting for his future at the team following his winter reset.

"He is an important part of the team and it is about working collectively and I think he has got a great engineering support around him and the team are doing a good job," he explained.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, embraces Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing in celebration in Parc Ferme

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, embraces Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing in celebration in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

"He feels comfortable in the team. He knows he is out of contract at the end of this season and he is driving for his future.

"He responds to pressure in the best possible way and I think we see that with certain drivers with how they respond to pressure while others sometimes wilt.

"He has changed a few things in his approach and I think he is driving really well."

Perez qualified second for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after nearly getting eliminated in Q1, with Horner admitting the team was riding its luck as it was decided Perez would try and get through to Q2 on a set of used tyres.

"The track was evolving quickly and in hindsight we probably should have run a new set of tyres, but we were stacking them up for later in qualifying and the track was ramping up," he said.

"You’d like to say it was perfect judgement but we got a bit lucky to get him within the cut."

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