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Horner casts light on Perez shortcoming during P2 hunt

Christian Horner has defended Sergio Perez's third place finish in the Chinese Grand Prix, arguing that his two-stop strategy would have "smashed" a one-stop approach without the intervention of the safety car.

Perez China
To news overview © XPBimages

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has explained what caused Sergio Perez to lose second-place to McLaren's Lando Norris in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Having started alongside team-mate and race winner Max Verstappen on the front row, Perez fell behind Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso on the opening lap, but managed to work his way past the Spaniard.

However, when the safety car was brought out due to Valtteri Bottas' retirement, Norris and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc were able to capitalise. Whilst Perez would successfully dispatch the latter, the former would prove elusive, meaning he would have to settle for the final spot on the podium.

“We went into the race on a reasonably aggressive two-stop [strategy],” Horner began when asked by Sky Sports post-race if he was surprised or disappointed by Perez failing to climb back to second.

“The safety car timing probably couldn’t have been worse for us, particularly for Checo [Perez], because we had to stop again to effectively converge on strategy with a Ferrari and the McLaren to the end of the race, and that dropped Checo on track position behind both Lando [Norris] and Charles [Leclerc] and it took him quite a bit of time to get past Charles, which probably took quite a bit out of his tyres.

“So, by the time he had cleared Charles, his tyres probably weren't in the best of shape to hunt down Lando, who had great pace today. But nonetheless, another very strong weekend from Checo to get that double podium."

Two-stopper would have 'smashed' one-stop strategy

Horner maintained had it not been for the intervention of the safety car, Perez would have had enough in reserve to finish one position better.

“I think the two-stop would have smashed the one-stop – the quickest way for us to run that race was on a two-stop," the 50-year-old replied, dismissing the notion that Perez would have been under threat from the McLaren and Ferrari either way.

“Getting the safety car when he did, it effectively converged it onto a very long last stint and we had to take that - effectively an extra stop.

"But I think under normal racing conditions a two-stop would have been quicker, but that’s the way it works out – you just can’t predict when the safety cars are gonna come out.”

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