Red Bull boss Christian Horner remains hopeful his struggling driver Sergio Perez can regain confidence by working with a mental coach, saying his team “desperately” needs the Mexican to return to form.
Perez has scored just five points from the last three races while teammate Max Verstappen has racked up 69, helping him secure his third world title at Saturday’s sprint race in Qatar.
In the same race, Perez was involved in a three-car accident which forced Red Bull to replace his chassis and start him from the pit lane for Sunday’s race. He went on to finish tenth and score a single point.
Earlier this year, Perez revealed that he is working with a psychologist to rediscover his form from the early part of the season — when he won two of the first four races — and Horner is hopeful it will make a difference to his on-track results.
“Sport at the highest echelon is a mental game as much as a physical game,” Horner told reporters on Sunday. “Checo [Perez] has mentioned he’s working with a coach in that area.
“I think that’s what we need to unlock with him to get him his confidence.”
Perez is at risk of losing second place in the championship to Lewis Hamilton, who is now 30 points behind the Red Bull driver after outscoring him by 25 points at the last three races.
Red Bull, which has already won this year’s constructors’ championship as well as the drivers’ title with Verstappen, has never finished a season with its drivers first and second in the standings.
“I think we really need to sit down with Checo because we know what he’s capable of and he’s really not hitting that form at the moment,” Horner added. “We desperately need him to find his form to keep that second place in the championship.
“So yeah, frustrating that he’s only come out of the [Qatar] weekend with one point and I think even starting from the back of the grid there was a chance to score heavily today, or decently.
“But we’ll support him as much as we can because with the triple header coming up, there’s a huge amount of points coming up with sprint races as well.”
Asked if it was just a confidence issue or also related to Perez struggling to adapt his driving style to the strengths of the Red Bull RB19, Horner said the two were related.
“I think when you get into a spiral like that the two things become intertwined,” he added. “You need to just sometimes take your foot, put it on the floor, stop the merry-go round and just go back to basics. That’s what we’ll do.
“We all know what Checo’s capable of and we want to support him to get back into a position, where… even as near ago as Monza he was finishing second place to Max.”
Perez has a contract in place for next year and Horner played down suggestions he could be moved out of the drive if his current form continues.
“As I say, we’re going to give all the support for Checo to find his form,” he added. “You guys [the media] will beat him up enough I’m sure.
“We really want to see him achieve what we know is capable of.”