With Perez returning to the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time since one of his most disappointing events of the 2023 campaign, Horner was especially intrigued about how well the Mexican would do.

So, with Perez’s previous best qualifying performance in Japan having been fourth place on the grid in 2022, he offered to pay out a hefty wager if his driver could get himself on the front row of the grid.

Perez duly did that, and in the end missed out on beating his team-mate Max Verstappen to pole position by just 0.066 seconds.

But, when Horner came to pay out, Perez confessed that he had covered himself with a separate arrangement with former F1 supremo Ecclestone – so the money had to go direct to him.

Speaking about what happened, Horner said: “I had a bet with him [Perez] to put it on the front row, because his best qualifying performance had been P4 here.

“But somehow, having won the bet, he told me that he owed Bernie Ecclestone exactly the same amount of money. So he's passed that on to Bernie, who was the beneficiary from Checo's front row.

“So dear old Bernie is still making money while not even being here.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, embraces Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing in celebration in Parc Ferme

While the front row bet situation amused Horner, he actually was left full of praise for the attacking drive that Perez put in throughout the Japanese Grand Prix – which included some brave overtaking moves in 130R

Horner added: “Checo in particular has had a strong weekend, qualifying within one tenth of his team-mate here.

“His race pace was strong, and obviously he had the disadvantage of having to come back through the traffic.

“And there were a couple of moments where I must admit I had my eyes shut as he went into 130R. [I thought], ‘do you need to do it there? Can you not wait for the straight?’ He didn't look like he had three kids when he made that move.”

Perez’s strong start to the campaign has boosted his chances of securing a fresh contract to stay at Red Bull in 2025, with his current deal coming to end later this year.

Horner said that Perez just needed to keep doing what he was doing to help secure his place.

“I think his confidence is high,” added Horner. “He's very focused on the job in hand, and he's comfortable in the team. He knows he's out of contract for next year, so it's his seat to lose. He's very popular in the team and he has started the season in the best possible way.”