Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed he is 'desperate' for Sergio Perez to discover his pace after Mercedes tactically outsmarted Red Bull in Spain.
After Perez qualified eighth at a track on which it is notoriously difficult to pass, it left Max Verstappen without a wingman as he sandwiched Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas at the front of the grid.
Although Verstappen led for much of the race, Red Bull was unable to cover off or prevent Mercedes' tactical two-stop gamble, allowing Hamilton to claim the 98th F1 win of his career.
While Perez at least rose three places to fifth by the chequered flag, he still finished 37 seconds behind third-placed Bottas.
“We desperately need him to be in that gap so Mercedes doesn’t have the strategic options they had," said Horner.
“But I’m convinced that this will come for Checo as he finds more confidence and time in the car.”
Via team radio prior to Hamilton's second stop, Horner had warned Verstappen Mercedes had a free stop behind them so had "all of the options".
Explaining the comments, he added: “I was just saying that the facts are Checo was being held up, so obviously, the two lead guys were so far ahead of the rest of the pack, that gave Lewis a free stop as he had in Hungary .
“He had only got to get past his team-mate [and] that was never going to be an issue so that is why we need both cars up there strategically so that option isn’t available to Mercedes.”
Despite a difficult start for Perez to his Red Bull career, a pattern that has haunted drivers in the seat alongside Verstappen, Horner is confident better results are on the horizon.
“I think it is coming together for him," insisted Horner. "He had an off day on Saturday. He was compromised in the race behind Daniel but then he didn’t manage to make the headway at a track that is so difficult to pass."
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