Christian Horner believes that no driver would have been able to match Max Verstappen in the same equipment in 2022 after Sergio Perez's championship hopes ultimately came up short. The Mexican finished third in the World Championship following a battle with Charles Leclerc for the runner-up position in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Perez ended the campaign with 305 points, while Verstappen – who clinched his second title at the Japanese Grand Prix – racked up 454 points, as well as breaking the record for most wins in a season along the way. As Perez fought for P2 in the championship, his relationship with Verstappen came under the spotlight in Brazil when the Dutchman refused a team order to let Perez by, though both stated afterwards that the situation had been discussed and resolved. When asked whether there was any sense of relief that those lost points ultimately did not affect the outcome for Perez in Abu Dhabi, Horner stated that he was keen to look at the four-time race winner's season as a whole rather than focus on one race.
Horner: Perez will take many lessons from 2022
"I think you've got to look at the season on a whole and I think, when you look at it, both Charles and Checo will be ruing opportunities missed," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com . "[There were] probably quite a few more for Charles than there [were] for Checo. "You've got to look at it as a performance over a year, not over an individual race, and Checo's had the best year that he's ever had in Formula 1. "He's won the Monaco Grand Prix, his drive at Singapore was outstanding – [it] was the best Grand Prix I've seen him drive. "I think he'll take a huge amount of positives. It's the first time he's finished in the top three in this championship, and again, I think he'll take many lessons out of this year."
Verstappen in a level of his own, says Horner
With Perez unable to challenge Verstappen for the title in 2022, Horner thinks that this would have been a task too great for any driver on the grid. "I think Max is operating at a level that I'm not sure anybody – with the way he's driving at the moment – in the same equipment would be able to repeat what he's done this year," the team boss said. Perez has voiced his hopes of being able to "come back stronger" in 2023 , a year in which the 32-year-old will go into his third season as Verstappen's teammate at Red Bull.