Christian Horner denies Sergio Perez is number two driver to Max Verstappen

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has denied that Sergio Perez has number two driver status at the team after the controversial team order for him to let Max Verstappen pass him in Barcelona.

The Mexican driver was leading the Grand Prix but was told on team radio to let teammate Verstappen past, a decision he stated was 'very unfair', which saw the defending champion win his third race in a row.

Perez played a vital role in Verstappen's title success last year but will have harboured title aspirations of his own in 2022, with Red Bull assembling a dominant machine on the grid and leading both championships.

With the team orders, and the fact Perez has just two race wins to Verstappen's 24, the general consensus is that Perez is cemented as the team's second-choice driver – but that's something Horner has denied.

"Being Max Verstappen's teammate is a bit of a head-screw for any driver, but I think Checo has got the maturity to deal with that at the stage he's at in his career and with the experience that he's got," he told RacingNews365.

"He's finally got himself into a competitive car and he wants to make the very best of that at this point in his career. He knows that he gets the same equipment, the same chance, but I think he's realistic in his expectations as well. And he's very much a team player.

"I think with his performances to date, so far, he's converged with Max. The dynamic between the two of them is very good. I think Checo is more settled in the team this year, in his second year, and, of course, with a reset with a new car, he's been very much closer to the pace."

Were Red Bull's team orders in Barcelona unfair on Sergio Perez? Comment below.

Perez has established a strong relationship alongside Verstappen at Red Bull, a position which hasn't been easy to fill with both Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon only having short stints at the team while Daniel Ricciardo elected to move on.

The consistency of the Mexican driver seems to have cemented his position in the team, with Horner confirming new contract talks are likely to go ahead: "Inevitably, in the next few weeks, we'll start talking about future seasons, but we're not in a desperate rush."

Red Bull's performance in Barcelona saw them leapfrog Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship, following their second one-two finish in three races.

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