Red Bull’s “bold” decision to hire from outside of its junior programme for the first time since 2007 is “starting to pay dividends” according to team boss Christian Horner.
Red Bull has a hugely successful junior programme, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly all coming through the team’s junior squad, AlphaTauri (previously Toro Rosso).
However with Gasly and Alex Albon both struggling after their promotion to the top team, Red Bull were forced to look outside their junior programme for the first time, with ex-Racing Point driver Sergio Perez getting the call up.
Perez has so far impressed, taking victory in Azerbaijan and being on the pace at other rounds to give Red Bull strategic options it otherwise wouldn’t have had, aiding its bid for the titles.
“I think he just gives us that experience. He’s got 10 years worth of experience,” Horner told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“He’s got an ability to manage the tyres within a race that is second to none. It just brings a different dynamic into the line-up.
“Both Pierre and Alex are tremendously gifted drivers, but timing just wasn’t right. Then the pressured environment that we have, and the expectation, it was very tough for them.”
Horner believes the decision not to stick with its own drivers and to instead recruit externally, was a “bold” move, but one that is paying off.
“It was a bold move to step out of the scheme this year with Sergio,” added Horner. “For the first time since Mark Webber, we’ve taken a non-Red Bull junior driver.
“But the way he settled in and the way he’s delivering, particularly after that victory in Bahrain last year, it would have been very tough for him not to be in Formula 1.
“I think he brings the dynamic in the fight that we have with Mercedes. That’s starting to pay dividends. You saw that in the French Grand Prix, and also Azerbaijan getting his first victory.
“The way he fended off Lewis, Lewis probably would have won that race had it not been for Sergio so he’s absolutely delivering.”