Jenson Button believes Formula One’s Red Bull Racing are partly responsible for the feud which has developed between their two drivers. Max Verstappen wrapped up the drivers’ title in Japan and a week later Red Bull claimed their first constructors’ title since 2013. All that’s left to play for is a few records for Max and the team.
One record Christian Horner appeared to prize would be for Sergio Perez to finish second in the drivers’ championship. “We’ve never had a 1-2 with our drivers,” the Red Bull boss revealed at the US GP.
Following his incident with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen’s hopes of a 15th win of the season were dashed as he pitted early in the race for a new nose cone. However Perez was set for a top three finish even though the win was probably out of reach.
Perez hi-jacked by safety car
Perez was comfortable in P2 when the final safety car of the day was dispatched by race control. Red Bull failed to pit him and his lead over third place Hamilton was immediately eroded.
With those around him on fresher rubber and Perez on older mediums the Mexican was a sitting duck at the restart. He was passed quickly by both Hamilton and Carlos Sainz then managed to hold onto P4 for several laps. Sainz pitted again briefly promoting Perez back to third but to no avail as the Ferrari on fresh tyres breezed past the Red Bull within 6 laps.
The last 9 laps saw Perez go off the proverbial cliffs he fell from P4 to Charles LeClerc then Alonso who had pitted under the safety car for new tyres and finally his team mate who was also on much newer rubber.
Red bull mixed messages
The team told Sergio to allow Verstappen through to attack Alonso yet this message was almost pointless because ax was much quicker than his team mate. Perez was told he would be given the place back on the final lap were Verstappen not to catch and overtake the Spaniard’s Alpine. Verstappen was not given the same message, presumably because he could have overtaken Sergio anyway.
The Verstappen refuses to let Perez through on lap 71 take the chequered flag ahead of Perez and creating a mini paddock storm.
Verstappen was criticised in most quarters for not helping his team mate in Brazil, though his rival for P2 in the drivers’ championship Charles LeClerc was refused the opportunity to take a place from his team mate for P3. Jenson Button says he can’t understand why the double world champion refused the team’s request merely stating on team radio, “I’ve give my reasons, please don’t ask again.”
Button blames Red Bull poor planning
Speaking to Sky’s Any Driven Monday Button said, “Max could have come out of this so well, the world champion letting his team-mate past so he can fight for second in the championship,”
“You’ve got to ask Red Bull, if they have discussed this beforehand as Max said then why are they asking him to do it in the race?
“It feels like they haven’t discussed it properly before the race weekend as a team and that seems like a bigger issue, it seems Red Bull have put themselves in this situation which definitely is negative marketing. It’s a real shame because like I say it could have been a perfect end to the race.
“The mistake in the early part of the race with Lewis was an incident we didn’t want to see, but to come out and say ‘here you go Checo, here’s a couple of points and now you’re second in the championship, we’re going to finish first and second’, it’s awesome.
“But that story is not the story we have.”
Further, having slated Ferrari all season it has to be said in Brazil Red Bull’s tyre strategy for Perez was questionable. Alonso three stopped and came from the back of the grid to finish P5 whereas Sergio was put on a more conservative 2 stop stretegy.
"Max, let Checo through please…Max what happened?"
Max: "I gave my reasons, and I stand by it" pic.twitter.com/OWGasb6scy
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 13, 2022