Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has made it clear once again that Sergio Perez must improve his performance, calling the Mexican’s current points deficit to teammate Max Verstappen “unsustainable”.

After performing well in the opening six races of the season, Perez has scored just three top ten finishes since last May’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with seventh in Austria his best result.

At Silverstone, Perez endured another dismal race weekend, qualifying a lowly 20th following a spin in Q1 and concluding Sunday’s British Grand Prix well down the order in 17th position.

Red Bull had opted to launch Perez’s race from the pit lane following a strategic engine change, and on the hard tyre, possibly banking on a one-stop strategy, but a mid-race rain shower squandered that plan

“Of course it’s frustrating when both of your cars aren’t performing collectively,” commented Horner after the race. “It was frustrating to lose Checo in Q1.

“He’d missed [first practice] because of Isack Hadjar driving. He had a decent P2. He probably should have been around the top six and then to lose that car in Q1 was very frustrating.

“This weekend nothing’s really gone his way. We took a gamble in the race. He started on the hard tyre, he was making decent progress early on in the race.

“The rain started to arrive, he was P15 or 16 at the time. You roll the dice at that point, as they did with Leclerc. We went onto the inter.

“If the rain had picked up he’d have looked a hero. It didn’t, so we had an extra stop and the time loss being on an inter on a drying track was hemorrhaging a lot of time for him.

“So obviously a lot to look at from over the weekend.”

Beyond the specifics of Sunday’s event at Silverstone, Horner acknowledged that Perez’s continued underperformance is untenable.

“He knows it’s unsustainable to not be scoring points,” said Horner.

“We have to be scoring points and he knows that. He knows his role and his target and so nobody is more eager than Checo to get back.”

The spectre of a mid-season driver change at Red Bull is now hovering over Perez based on a performance clause inserted in his contract.

According to a report from Motorsport.com, Red Bull would be allowed to oust Perez should he fall behind Verstappen by more than 100 points in the Drivers’ standings at key championship points – meaning at F1’s summer break and at season’s end.

Currently, Perez sits 137 points behind Verstappen with just two races left before F1’s shut-down period.

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While it has been rumored that RB’s Daniel Ricciardo could make a sensational return to Red Bull, this week will see Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson test with the Milton Keynes-based outfit at Silverstone, the Kiwi enjoying an outing in the context of a 200 km-limited filming day.

It has been speculated that the talented 22-year-old could replace Perez, but Horner downplayed such a prospect, insisting that Lawson’s test was planned months ago.

“The Liam aero run has been planned for a couple of months now and for Checo, of course he’s under pressure. That’s normal in Formula 1,” Horner said.

“And when you’re under delivering, that pressure only mounts. He’s aware of that, he knows that and this weekend nothing has gone his way.”

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