Christian Horner directly aimed a dig at Nico Rosberg after the F1 champion criticised Sergio Perez’s performance at the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Red Bull boss also suggested George Russell should have had a penalty which would have helped his driver get onto the podium.
Red Bull maintained their 100% record in 2023 at Catalunya with Max Verstappen claiming his fifth win of the season is crushing style, finishing over 24 seconds ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton with his Mercedes teammate Russell third.
After a poor qualifying saw him start 12th, Perez could only muster fourth despite how blisteringly quick his RB19 car is, and he has lost even more ground to Verstappen in the title race, with his teammate now 53 points ahead.
2016 world champion Rosberg asked Horner about Perez’s lack of pace on Sky Sports, but the latter bizarrely took issue with the question, retorting: ‘You’re quite a critical guy aren’t you?
‘You’re tough on these guys. Now you’re not in the car you’re happy to criticise all the guys.’
Horner went onto defend Perez and claimed that he could have finished higher had Russell been penalised for an incident at the start.
The 25-year-old, somewhat cheekily, took to the escape road at the first turn to avoid potential contact with Kevin Magnussen and though he gained a little time he avoided what would have been a five-second penalty as technically he was in front of those he was battling and didn’t gain a position unfairly.
With Perez finishing just over three seconds behind Russell, he could well have claimed third had a penalty been given, a point Horner was keen to make, saying: ‘He lost out in the early laps.
‘He didn’t have a great start. George managed to get away with running off track, not getting a penalty for that.
‘I think that was the difference at the end of the day. Checo his race was getting stronger and stronger. That last stint in particular he was coming back very strong. Just not enough laps to get that podium.’
Mercedes’ pace was greatly improved in Spain, but still nowhere near that of Red Bulls, with the team principal adding: ‘It was still 24 seconds behind at the end of the race. They made a good step.
‘But we’ve got some stuff in the pipe line. They have had a big upgrade and we have got some bits coming later in the season. For sure it was a big step. They are a quality team and will be putting us under pressure in the second half of the year.’
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