Christian Horner shocked by Sergio Perez's claim about Max Verstappen

Christian Horner has refuted Sergio Perez’s claim that Red Bull used to be a one-driver team that favoured Max Verstappen.

Two races into the Formula One season, and Red Bull look to set to dominate the championship, with Verstappen and Perez the only two drivers capable of winning the title.

Given that they are so far ahead of their rivals, Horner is likely to let the pair race freely, and some believe that that could lead to tensions rising between the pair following events in Brazil last year and Saudi Arabia just two weeks ago.

For now though, Perez is happy to be in the fight and suggested that this was not the case when he joined Red Bull from Racing Point two years ago.

‘When I came to the team, things were very different and, basically, they were just going racing with two cars because they had to,’ the Mexican said ahead of this Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

‘I can say now that I really feel part of the team, I really feel like I have my place well respected. And I think that’s something good to have as a driver.

‘I really believe that they have full support of the team as much as Max does and, that I will have every single opportunity to win the championship as much as Max.’

Though most teams do have a No.1 and No.2 driver, Red Bull have notoriously been a one-driver team for some time, with Verstappen clearly getting preferential treatment over his teammates like Perez, Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly.

Daniel Ricciardo left the team after 2018 because he felt he was no longer getting support from the likes of Horner, and over a decade ago Mark Webber was sidelined by the team in favour of Sebastian Vettel, with the Aussie infamously remarking after winning a race: ‘Not bad for a No.2 driver!’

However, Red Bull team principal Horner firmly disagrees with all this and admitted he was surprised by Perez’s comments, saying: ‘That’s the first I’ve heard him saying that.

‘We always have run two cars since we entered the sport in 2005. And we always want to have the best two drivers that we can in the car, and I think it’s great to see Checo doing certainly a great job now.

‘In 2021 he came into the car off the back of the COVID season and at the end of a set of regulations, and he struggled with that car. Last year, he was definitely more at home within the car and two of our 17 victories he achieved.

‘He’s got out the blocks well again this year. But we’re only two races into the season and it’s an awful long, long way to go.

‘And, as a team, we’ve always strived to give both drivers the best opportunity and the best equipment we can and then it’s down to what they do on track.

‘And that’s whether it’s Max and Checo, or Daniel and Max, or Daniel and Seb, or Mark and Seb, or we could even go back to David Coulthard and Mark Webber. So that’s the way we’ve always rolled and it’s down to what they do on the circuit at the end of the day that counts.’

Verstappen topped the first of Friday’s practice sessions in Melbourne ahead of Perez in third, and finished ahead of his teammate again in the rain affected FP2.

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