The 2022 Formula One drivers’ champion has come under fire for his decision to refuse to allow his team mate past in the recent Sau Paulo GP. Allowing Perez to take Verstappen’s P6 would have seen him claim an extra 2 points in his battle with Ferrari’s Charles LeClerc for 2nd place in this season’s drivers’ championship. However, Verstappen refused the order to switch the Red Bull cars on the last lap of the race.
“I told you already last time guys, don’t ask that again to me, okay,” said Verstappen. “Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
Perez deliberate crash in Monaco
Perez was clearly unhappy and when told of Verstappen’s refusal said, “It shows who he really is.”
Rumours swept through the paddock that Verstappen in fact had a grudge against his Mexican team mate dating back to this year’s Monaco GP qualifying session.
Having a quicker time than Verstappen on his last run in the principality Perez made a simple error spinning and ruining his team mates last quick run in Q3. Perez went on to win the race.
Jos Verstappen attacks Red Bull
Following the Monaco GP, Verstappen’s father issued a stinging attack on Max’s website over how Red Bull had managed his son’s weekend.
Most of Jos’s column related to the tactics the team deployed during the race but the implication was clear he was not happy with the events of qualifying either.
“Max also had bad luck in qualifying, because in his last run he was significantly faster and on his way to second place, until the crash of Perez,” the elder Verstappen wrote.
“Then everything would have been different.”
Max the brat?
However the prevailing view in the Sau Paulo paddock was given Max has now won the championship, this should all be water under the bridge.
Further, Perez obeyed team orders in Barcelona where Verstappen went on to win the race with Sergio in P2.
So was Max just being petulant and unreasonable?
A Red Bull insider has now come out and given his opinion on the matter suggesting in fact Max’s unco-operative behaviour relates to another more recent event.
Perez begs team for a win
Prior to the Mexican GP with Max having won the drivers’ title much was being made as to whether he would allow Checo a win at his home race. Perez would then be the first Mexican driver to claim a home win.
Sky Sports F1 recorded an interview with Sergio on the Wednesday where he claimed:
“Nothing is better than winning a Grand Prix in your own country.”
“I experienced in Zandvoort what that brings [Max winning at home]. I want to experience that too, but it won’t be easy. The pressure is huge and the crowd almost demands that you win.
But Max will surely try to help me (win) if the opportunity presents itself. I have no doubt he will support me.”
Verstappen “fastest driver wins”
Verstappen was asked about the matter during the press day on Thursday and his view was different.
“If I drive first on the last lap and he second? Then I will win the race. And then he finishes ahead of Leclerc anyway.”
This request from Perez to the team apparently caused some amount of friction.
Antonio Felix de Costa is an ex-Red Bull junior driver, 2019 Formula E champion and 2022 WEC champion. Speaking to Portuguese media Antonio reveals how when visiting the paddock in Austin he had chance to speak with Max.
De Costa asked the world champion whether the team were going to force a Perez win next time out in Mexico.
Verstappen replied stating Sergio had made this request of the team and that he’d replied “No chance” and that as with all grand prix “the fastest driver should win.”
Perez ‘unfollows’ Verstappen
F1 observers then noted that Perez unfollowed Verstappen on twitter suggesting a certain amount of friction had been created within the team.
Of course the latest rumours in the driver market is Daniel Ricciardo is set to return to Red Bull as a reserve driver for 2023 and he claims this will “bring me back to the front for 2024.”
Whether the wheels are in motion to replace the Mexican at Red Bull is not obvious at this time, though Ricciardo’s driving style is more sympathetic with how Red Bull are developing their car – away from Perez and towards Verstappen’s favoured oversteer.
Should drivers be solely allowed to race or should they listen to their team orders?! 🤔 pic.twitter.com/uHkBjcUZ93
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 14, 2022