Max Verstappen led much of last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but rival Mercedes had enough lead behind him to switch to a two-stop strategy without losing his track position in favor from another team.
The tire advantage Hamilton gained from the new rubber allowed him to close the gap and revise Verstappen for the win.
Red Bull has no illusions that if they are to fight Mercedes, they cannot afford to give their main competitor such strategic options – and for that to happen, Perez has to be there to compromise the choices. from the German manufacturer.
Horner understood that Perez’s Spanish GP weekend had been derailed by a shoulder issue that hit him on Saturday, but he was also aware of the impact of not having two cars up there.
“I think it comes together for him,” Horner said of Perez.
“He had a day off [on Saturday] and he was compromised in the race behind Daniel [Ricciardo].
“Obviously, he did not manage to advance on a track [that] was so hard to pass, because we desperately need him to be in that gap, so Mercedes doesn’t have the strategic options it did have.
“I’m sure it will come for Checo as he finds more confidence and time in the car.”
Verstappen himself told Dutch channel Ziggo Sport on Sunday evening that being “alone” up front was not a good situation.
“I actually tried to run my race as well as I could and take good care of my tires, but somehow we’re slower and we wear our tires more,” he said. he declared.
“Then, of course, at some point you don’t stand a chance.
“And in the end I’m still alone in the fight. So they can easily make another save, because there’s a gap behind them. That doesn’t help either, of course.”
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Asked about Perez doing more, Verstappen said, “So at least they can’t make that second stop. Then it remains only to find out who has the best tires in the end. But yes, it is.
The situation Red Bull faced at Barcelona was almost identical to that of Hungary 2019, when Hamilton had free space behind him in a similar battle with Verstappen thanks to Pierre Gasly not being fast enough.
The world champion found new tires and came back to win under identical circumstances.
Horner referred to the team’s Hungarian repeat by radio in Verstappen at the end of the Spanish GP.
Speaking of similar circumstances, Horner said: “The facts are very clear that obviously the two leading guys were so far ahead of the rest of the field so to speak, that Lewis had a free save as he did. in Hungary.
“He just had to pass his teammate, and that would never be a problem. That is why we need both cars strategically, so this option is not available for Mercedes.