Damon Hill issued Christian Horner with a reminder that he “recommended” Sergio Perez to the Red Bull F1 team.

Red Bull boss Horner had teased Sky Sports’ pundits about previous criticism of Perez.

The under-pressure Perez has claimed three P2 finishes in four grands prix this year, and qualified for Sunday’s F1 Chinese Grand Prix in second behind teammate Max Verstappen.

“You guys have a tendency to write him off but he’s doing a great job,” Horner told the Sky Sports studio.

“He came into the season with a new frame of mind. He is relaxed and driving the car well.

“He is not focusing on his teammate. It’s a different approach.

“In the first five races we have seen a strong performance from him.

“His confidence is growing and hopefully he can convert that into another good result.”

1996 F1 champion Hill replied to Horner: “Far from writing him off, I seem to remember recommending him to you, at one point!”

Perez ‘responds to pressure in the best way’

Horner addressed Perez’s upturn in form: “He is an important part of the team.

“It’s about working collectively. He has great engineering support around him. He feels comfortable.

“He knows that he’s out of contract so he’s driving for his future.

“He responds to pressure in the best possible way. Some drivers respond to pressure, and others wilt.”

Horner said to Hill: “It reminds me of your 1995 and 1996 seasons.

“Over that winter, you certainly came back a different driver in ‘96.

“It is similar with Checo. He has gone away, wintered well, changed a few things in his approach, and he is driving well.”

Perez narrowly avoided an unfortunate Q1 elimination during Saturday’s qualifying for the grand prix.

Horner explained: “The track was evolving quickly.

“With hindsight we should have run a new set of tyres but we were stacking them up for later in qualifying.

“You’d like to say it was perfect judgement but we got a little bit lucky to be within the cut.”

Red Bull’s domination looks set to continue in Shanghai on Sunday, after Verstappen won the sprint race on Saturday.

Horner was asked if his team will continue developing their 2024 car or begin looking further ahead.

“You’ve got to keep your head down, keep pushing forward,” he replied.

“It’s still early in this championship, there is a long way to go.

“As we head back to Europe I suspect updates will arrive from other teams.

“Things can change. You can’t afford complacency.

“It has been a really good Saturday for us. The sprint race victory, pole position, and Checo on the front row as well.

“100 poles in 15 years, and the first one was here 15 years ago.”