Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sergio Perez on Saturday to forget about fighting for the Formula One championship and focus on his driving.
The Mexican is second in the standings but a mighty 53 points behind team mate and double world champion Max Verstappen after seven of 22 races.
“He needs to stop thinking about the championship and just drive,” Horner told Sky Sports television after Perez was 17th in a wet final practice for the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Verstappen was fastest in the session, 2.7 seconds quicker than Perez.
While Red Bull are dominant and have won every race this season with Verstappen triumphing in five, Perez has failed to make the podium in his last two — no points in Monaco and fourth in Spain.
In Miami in May he was challenging Verstappen for the championship lead with both on two wins apiece.
“He had a great start to the season, he’s had a couple of rougher races and I think he just needs to find that mojo again,” said Horner.
“We know what he’s capable of, we’ve seen it earlier in the year.
“If he just frees his shoulders up a bit it will just come to him more naturally.”
Horner recognised after the Spanish Grand Prix that Verstappen, still only 25 but chasing a 41st career win this weekend that would lift him alongside the late Ayrton Senna in the all-time lists, was a tough team mate.
“I think now there is that separation in the points, that may actually take the pressure off him (Perez) a little and the expectation he’s putting on himself,” the Briton said then.
Perez told reporters in Montreal on Thursday that the pressure remained.
“We always have to deliver to our maximum. And we just have to make sure we deliver,” he said. “We have a great car and we should be having a lot of podiums, wins and so on from now until the end of the year.”