Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insists Sergio Perez received as much information from the team as Max Verstappen did during their fight for victory in the Miami Grand Prix.
The different strategies between the two drivers left Verstappen spending much of the middle part of the race trying to get a full pit stop ahead of Perez, meaning it was a case of managing the time gap to a driver the other couldn’t see. Horner said both drivers had the same knowledge of the margin between them during the middle stint despite television coverage suggesting Perez was receiving fewer updates.
“I think that was a mistake in the commentary,” he said. “Checo was very clear on the pit stop. 19.8 seconds was the magic number, and he was getting every single lap the gap to Max. So long as he knows Max is within that magic 19.8, he knew he was behind him, because he could work out if he was 16 seconds behind, there’d be three seconds between them.”
Verstappen ultimately triumphed and reasserted his championship lead over Perez, who’d won both the Sprint and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix a week earlier to cutting Verstappen’s championship lead to six points. A mistake in qualifying followed by a red flag left Verstappen starting from ninth, but he overhauled pole-sitter Perez to take his third victory of the season.
“I think he kept his head,” Horner said. “He definitely came out of Baku disappointed. Checo was the faster guy there, particularly on Sunday, and I think he came here really wanting to reassert himself, and then of course he made a mistake in qualifying, that then put him on the back foot.
“His pace in the race was quite outstanding. Checo, again, he drove a very strong race, particularly on the hard tire. The damage was done to Checo in that first stint; that he didn’t have enough of a buffer for later in the race.”
Despite Verstappen’s strong drive, the Red Bull team principal doesn’t believe the result will have been overly damaging to Perez’s own title aspirations after starting from pole on Sunday.
“There’s still a long, long way to go,” he said. “There’s only 14 points between the two drivers, we’ve got 18 races to go and five sprint races. There’s still an awful lot that can happen. I’m sure (Perez) was disappointed not to convert it into a victory, but he’s still taken away very valuable points.
“It’s the swings and roundabouts of sport. A week ago, he would have been on a high. I don’t think he’ll be too disappointed, he’s still taken away 18 points from here. I don’t think there’s anybody that would have beaten Max.”