Red Bull team principal Christian Horner declared Sergio Perez to be "a man on fire" given his performance so far for the United States Grand Prix.
Perez has yet to score a pole position in F1 but came close after setting the fastest time in the first of the runs in the top-10 shoot-out before settling for third behind team-mate Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
The Mexican has struggled for single-lap pace since joining Red Bull but after topping two practice sessions and falling just 0.224secs short of Verstappen in qualifying, Horner was full of praise for his driver.
“Checo is on fire this weekend," Horner told Sky Sports F1. "From pretty much the first session he has been pretty happy with the car and I thought he was going to get his first pole position.
"A little bit of rain at the end there, so being last on track, maybe it cost him a little bit in the last sector."
Despite the strong race pace often shown by Perez, Horner reiterated the team game will be played in Sunday's race as Verstappen aims to extend his championship advantage over Lewis Hamilton.
“[The message], it’s help your team-mate," said Horner.
"There’s two championships that we’re pushing for. One is the drivers’ and the other is the constructors’ and it’s an opportunity to take a few points out of the constructors’ here.
“So with Valtteri taking the penalty we’ve got to try and capitalise on that.”
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