In old school Formula One land, the drivers didn’t like each other and often during the podium ceremonies would glare at their competitors or refuse to shake hands. The Prost/Senna war is legendary in the sport resulting in first corner comings together at two final races of the season.
Yet with the advent of wall to wall TV coverage and the Netflix fly on the wall documentary the drivers need to be more PR savvy. At the season finales press conference in Abu Dhabi Max Verstappen remarked his refusal to help Perez in Brazil had made hime “look bad in the media this last week.”
Coulthard praises Verstappen’s decision
Verstappen has been slated on social media for his refusal of team orders at Interlagos yet Red Bull ambassador David Coulthard has a more old fashioned view of matters. The ex-F1 driver believes Max refusing to allow Perez through is no big deal
“It was an open conversation and there’s nothing to be interpreted – the team made a request, and the driver denied it.”
Coulthard believes the fault lies with Red Bull who clearly had asked the question on a previous occasion and been given Verstappen’s answer
“The answer was there before, and someone has come knocking again to try to get a different answer.
“Being consistent in your behaviour patterns is a quality – inconsistency is what you need to watch out for, because you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”
Perez F1 career was finished
The Channel 4 presenter also believes Perez should be eternally grateful to Red Bull for reviving his F1 career which appeared over after the Mexican was dropped by the Racing Point team.
“Checo was out of Formula 1 with no one knocking on his door,” he said.
“Red Bull gave him the opportunity to come back, and a car that’s nailed on to win races.”
Further, Sergio was not forced to sign a full blown number two driver contract by Red Bull and Coulthard believes he has been given an equal opportunity to Verstappen.
“He’s had a fair crack of the whip to try to beat Max, and he has consistently not delivered on the same level. He has occasionally done so, and I admire the victories he has had.”
Coulthard turns Ferrari No.2 contract down
Coulthard knows from experience how difficult it can be to compete with a world champion team mate Mika Hakkinen. The Scott also reveals his views on strict number two driver contracts as her turned down a move to Ferrari that stipulated he must yield to Michael Schumacher.
“I was offered a contract with Ferrari before I joined McLaren, and it stipulated that if I was running third and Michael Schumacher fourth, I would be told to move over.”
“I couldn’t bring myself to sign a contract which would mean I’d have to move over all the time, and with McLaren there was an equal opportunity. Then I found out that Mika Hakkinen was the guy that would win two World Championships and I didn’t, because he was quicker and he deserved those titles.
“The reason I took the team orders when I was told to move over for Mika was that I had one other choice, which was to leave. I had no other choice of anywhere else to go, so I chose the path which gave me a car and the opportunity to perform.”
Perez can just leave Red Bull
Of course Red Bull have set the target for the team’s first 1-2 in the drivers’ championship and so it may be Verstappen will be asked again to help Checo at the final race of the season. However, David Coulthard believes Sergio Perez is not entitled to any gifts and if he doesn’t like his current position he should just leave the team.
“If Checo doesn’t like it, then he can leave the team,” he continued, “but where is he going? So, for me, it’s just another one of those sporting decisions.
“You’ll never change the minds of those who feel Lewis Hamilton was robbed [of the world title] in Abu Dhabi last year, any more than they will give credit to Max for winning the championship, and vice versa. It was just one of those moments that comes and goes, and the teams will handle it.
“The reality is that Max is one of the elite drivers in the world. Elite drivers like the Schumachers and Sennas didn’t pass through their career without examples of stand-offs and disagreements with their teams.
“That’s part of their DNA and part of what makes them successful. To use a line from Jerry Maguire, ‘it’s not show friends, it’s showbusiness’.”
Having out qualified Charles LeClerc for the Abu Dhabi GP, Perez’s destiny is in his own hands. He needs to make a better start than there Ferrari behind him and put in a good performance. Then he’ll need no presents from Max.
Sebastian Vettel. That's it, that's the tweet 🥺❤️ pic.twitter.com/qnvNqclpTX
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 20, 2022