Christian Horner & Sergio Perez (Oracle Red Bull Racing)

Uzma Fatima

Christian Horner Explains Where Max Verstappen Lost The Azerbaijan Grand Prix To Sergio Perez!

Red Bull continues to dominate the F1 arena with their fourth consecutive one-two finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. So far, Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez both won 2-2 of the four races so far. As a result, Perez is only 6 points behind Verstappen in the championship race, having finished ahead of him in Baku by two seconds. This suggests that Perez will provide a strong challenge to the Dutchman and prevent him from winning his third consecutive championship. Despite Verstappen’s impressive record, Perez’s remarkable driving skills have made it clear that he could win his first championship in 2023, and history may not repeat itself.

This is the second time Max Verstappen faced issues with his RB19 that stopped him from winning a Grand Prix in 2023. Earlier in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he faced driveshaft issues. But in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the problems were different. It was not the RB19 car but the pitstop timing that decided the winner of the race. According to the team’s boss, Christian Horner, when Verstappen went to the pits, “Checo was obviously behind him.” But he got lucky through the safety car.


The Wrong Pit Stop Timing Took The Win Away From Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez won The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Max Verstappen second on the Podium
Sergio Perez won The Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Max Verstappen second on the Podium

What actually changed the plot of the Baku race is the SAFTEY CAR, followed by the crash of Alfa Tauri’s Nyck de Vries inside the barrier at Turn 5. On lap 4, Max Verstappen made a daring move to overtake Charles Leclerc, who was in the lead. However, Verstappen had to make a pit stop to change his tyres before the safety car was deployed. And just after that, the safety car happened. “It was the unfortunate thing,” said Horner.

During a post-race interview, the Red Bull principal also clarified the events that occurred in Baku involving Max. The team observed that Verstappen was having difficulty with the front tires of the RB19 and, with one lap remaining, decided to bring him in for a pit stop. Horner explained that the team quickly formulated a strategy and determined that it was the best time for the stop. At this point, De Vries had all four wheels on the car and had not yet hit the barrier, and the engine was still running.

Sergio Perez Delivered A Tough Performance! And Christian Horner Appreciates It.

image 12
Christain Horner hugging Sergio Perez in celebration of his win at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2023.

Red Bull made a mistake by not anticipating a safety car due to De Vries’s accident. If they had known, they would have done an extra lap, according to Horner. In situations like this, it’s uncertain if other drivers, like Charles Leclerc, will pit and potentially overtake them. However, the footage of the barrier hit by the Alfa Tauri driver shows the front wheels in the wrong place, but unfortunately, Red Bull could not determine it. “We did not have the visibility of De Vries” This was the problem, asserted Horner. Usually, a safety car appears after a car hits the barrier. But in this case, Horner could not see De Vries hitting the barrier.

Hence, Max Verstappen missed out on winning the third race of the season due to an incorrect pit stop timing. However, it’s important to acknowledge Sergio Perez’s impressive win. Despite the fortunate safety car situation, Perez still had to perform well to secure the victory over Verstappen. Christian Horner recognized this, stating, “Perez got lucky with the safety car, but as I said before, he then has to get on and deliver.” It’s noteworthy that Checo not only won the race but also defeated Verstappen. Horner also praised his performance, stating, “Checo drove a great race today.”