Sergio Perez saw victory slip through his fingers at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix on the 22nd of May, to the benefit of his team-mate Max Verstappen. Some thought that Red Bull had decided to favour the Dutchman over the Mexican, who demanded an explanation after the race. Several days after these events, Red Bull continues to maintain that the reason for this was a change in strategy forced onto Max Verstappen, and Dr Helmut Marko even goes as far as to green light Perez to beat Verstappen this year.
This season, the competition promises to be tough for Max Verstappen. To retain his title, the world champion will have to fight against Charles Leclerc and Ferrari, who have returned to the forefront of Formula 1 this season. But the Dutchman will also have to deal with his teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican has been pressing for wins at two races now, not allowing the championship battle to get too far ahead of him.
The 32-year-old saw victory slip away from him at the Spanish Grand Prix in favour of Max Verstappen. After that race, many thought that Sergio Perez had been the victim of a team order aimed at favouring his team-mate. But according to Helmut Marko, this was not the case, as the Monaco Grand Prix in May proved.
“Does Pérez have the right to beat Verstappen this year? He won in Monaco, didn’t he?” says Marko, effectively green lighting a title chance for the Mexican.
“In Spain, Max’s strategy was changed because his DRS wasn’t working. This created a whole new situation compared to Perez, who was on a two-stop strategy. Verstappen quickly caught up with Checo who had no chance with his strategy.
“We then told Perez to get out of the way as soon as possible because he was on a different strategy. It was important that it was done quickly, not like in the days of Hamilton and Bottas (at Mercedes F1), where they would sometimes stall for a whole lap. I don’t think it was a team thing,”