Christian Horner denies preferential treatment for Max Verstappen over Sergio Perez: We give both best opportunity

Red Bull will ensure Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen battle for the Formula One World Championship on an even basis and without favouritism, says team principal Christian Horner.

After two races of the 2023 season, the two drivers have one win each to their names, Verstappen triumphing in Bahrain before Perez claimed victory in Saudi Arabia.

Watching Red Bull secure back-to-back one-twos in the opening pair of races was an ominous sign for the rest of the grid, and the closest competition on track this season could well be between the two team-mates.

Horner dismissed any suggestion that Red Bull were ever a one-car team, and ensured equal competition.

“That is the first I have heard of him (Perez) saying that,” Horner said to Sky Sports. “We have always run two cars since we entered the sport in 2005 and we always want to have the best two drivers we can in the car.

“I think it is great to see Checo doing 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 in the car and two of our 17 victories he achieved.

“He has got out of the blocks well again this year but we are only two races into the season and there is a long way to go.

“As a team, we have always strived to give both drivers the best opportunity in the best equipment we can and then it is down to what they do on track.

“That is whether it is Max or Checo, or Daniel (Ricciardo) and Max, Daniel and Seb (Vettel), Mark (Webber) and Seb, or you can go back to David Coulthard and Mark Webber.

“That is the way we have always rolled, and it is down to what they do on the circuit at the end of the day that counts.”

While Verstappen was crowned world champion for a second consecutive year in 2022, Perez finished third in the drivers’ championship, behind his team-mate and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

But a good start to 2023 has impressed Horner, who was asked if this was the best racing he has seen from Perez.

“In a sample of two races, yes,” Horner said. “He drove some great races last year, you think back to Singapore for example as an outstanding victory for Checo last season.

“He has done a great job in the first two races this year, his confidence is sky high, and that is exactly what we want. We want two drivers who are going to be pushing and challenging each other.

“I think the key thing over a long season is it is a marathon. It is about consistency over the 23 races and that is going to be the differentiator. He has made a great start and both drivers are pushing each other which is what you want to see.”