Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has praised Sergio Perez for his “strength of character” competing alongside Max Verstappen.
Perez joined Red Bull in 2021 but has been largely outperformed by Verstappen who has won the World Championship each year they have been paired together.
Verstappen enjoyed a highly dominant campaign this year, winning 19 out of the 22 races en route to his third title.
Perez struggled behind the wheel of the RB19 but clung on to second place to give Red Bull its first-ever 1-2 in the Drivers' standings.
The Mexican driver's contract at the team expires at the end of next season, raising questions over his future with the Milton Keynes-based squad.
Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Horner commended Perez for his resiliance whilst driving alongsisde Verstappen.
“We always field the most competitive cars that we can, there's never a difference between the two cars,” Horner said.
“We had an era with Sebastian [Vettel] where he was incredibly dominant. It was difficult to be his team-mate.
“Now with Max it’s exactly the same thing. He's a machine, he is arguably [or] certainly the best driver currently in Formula 1 as a three-time World Champion. To be his team-mate is incredibly tough.
“If you're not psychologically strong, you won't cope with being his team-mate. It's as simple as that. He's just relentless in his pace, in the way that he operates.
“I think that's been one of the positives for Checo, he’s had the strength of character to be able to deal with how we've seen it break others.”
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No chance for juniors at Red Bull
Red Bull has operated for almost two decades with a duo of teams on the F1 grid and several drivers have progressed from the sister AlphaTauri squad to the front-running outfit during its existance.
AlphaTauri has largely operated as a destination for Red Bull junior drivers to make their F1 debuts, however the team has switched to a new philosophy of fielding at least one experienced driver.
Horner ruled out the possibility of promoting a Red Bull junior straight to the World Championship squad in the future.
“I think the expectations on the Red Bull drivers are so high, it would be very unfair to put a junior straight into Red Bull Racing,” he said.
“That’s the luxury of having AlphaTauri, it provided [us with] Max, Seb, Daniel Ricciardo. So many of our drivers over the years have come out of AlphaTauri.”
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