Sergio Pérez caused Red Bull Racing an enormous headache at the recent Monaco Grand Prix, by taking a famous victory and throwing himself straight into title contention.
For the first-time in his Formula 1 career, the 32-year-old is a serious contender for the championship, having shown incredible speed and consistency so far in 2022.
However, this comes as a problem potentially to Red Bull Racing, who in the past have a tendency to favour reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.
Pérez appeared to be the perfect number 2 driver, the Mexican was good at following team orders, most recently at the Spanish GP where he gave up position twice to Verstappen.
The Mexican even gave up the race win, in order for Verstappen to capitalise on Charles Leclerc’s retirement.
Pérez’ Monaco win completely changes the dynamic though, with only 15 points separating the Red Bull pair.
One would assume that whilst both drivers are in the title fight, that no team orders would take place.
With this in mind, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted that the team will work together.
“We’re not talking about Sergio Perez Racing or Max Verstappen Racing here,” Horner told Bloomberg.
“It’s about Red Bull Racing. The drivers work for the team and bear this responsibility. It is important that they realise that the ambitions of the team are greater than their own,” insisted the Red Bull boss.
Horner’s comments come as a result of Verstappen’s father declaring that the team should back his son’s title fight, rather than the Mexican’s.
The Red Bull boss reiterated that Pérez is a “lot closer” to Verstappen this season, and that he’s “just as much” in the title hunt.
“He is in this championship just as much Max is, the difference between the two of them is nothing,” Horner continued.
“He and Max have been a lot closer this year.”
“Checo is doing a great job this year, in Jeddah, he had that amazing pole and the time delta between him and Max has been a lot closer this year. To win this race is a deserved victory,” Horner said.
Following the race at the Circuit de Monaco, Verstappen was questioned by reporters about whether the pairs relationship in the Red Bull camp would change, with both drivers being in title contention.
The Dutchman was quick to squash any rumoured tension.
“Why would it change?” Verstappen responded.
“We work really well as a team. We always try to optimise the car and work for the team and we can accept when somebody does a good job or does a better job and I think that’s very important because that’s how you are respectful to each other.
“May the best man win at the end, right? We always, of course, [are] trying to do the best we can on the track but we also respect each other a lot,” concluded the 2021 World Champion.