Throughout his F1 career, Perez has earned a reputation as one of the strongest drivers when it comes to tire management, especially during his stints with Sauber and Force India.
But Perez admitted after the season finale in Abu Dhabi that he struggled more with this year’s Pirelli tyres, which have been replaced with 18-inch rims and were designed to allow riders to push harder. .
“I struggled a bit with these tires this year, in terms of tire management in the race,” Perez said.
“So hopefully that can be something we improve on for next year, and generally be a bit stronger.”
Perez’s tire issues proved costly in Abu Dhabi as he was forced to switch to a two-stop strategy after overusing his right front tire early in the race.
This cost the place on the Mexican track to Charles Leclerc, his rival for second place in the championship, and he could not close the gap in the last stint, leaving him to finish third in the race and the final classification.
Asked by Autosport about Perez’s tire issues this year, Horner noted how small set-up changes now had a bigger impact on tire performance.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
“What we’ve seen this year is that the margins are so thin,” Horner said.
“You can be a click of the front fender, or a little bit of ride height, or a little amount of mechanical balance, and that can have a dramatic effect on the life of your tires.
“I think Checo has had so many races where he’s been fantastic with the tyres. [In Abu Dhabi] it was only the first stint that compromised him, where the right front started to grain quite heavily from Charles and Max [Verstappen].
“It then got him out of sync where we needed to stop and it was on a very compromised stop. So the two stops were the more offensive run.
Perez struggled to sustain a challenge to Verstappen during the season, winning two races to his teammate’s 15 and finishing the year 149 points behind.