Divisions growing in Red Bull camp

Double Formula One world champion Max Verstappen was described by Christian Horner this weekend: He’s like an elephant, he’ll remember that, he’ll bank that for a while.

The Red Bull team boss was referring to the incident during the Sprint race which saw George Russell lose traction and slide into the side of Verstappen’s Red Bull ripping a large hole in the side.



Verstappen: Memory like an “elephant”

Yet we’ve already seen how Red Bull’s double world champion chooses not to forget when at the Sau Paulo GP he refused to allow his team mate through for a mere sixth place finish.

Verstappen was still sore over the events in Monaco six months earlier when Checo had crashed in suspicious circumstances during final qualifying. The resulting red flag meant Max would not get to make his final run and would start behind his Mexican team mate.

Much has been made of the rumble in the Brazilian jungle and how the appointment of Daniel Ricciardo as Red Bull reserve driver was to put Perez on notice that he would be out of the team were he to cross Verstappen again.

However, the four race weekends this season have seen little ill will from the Dutchman towards Checo although Perez was irritated that Verstappen was allowed to claim the fastest lap in Jeddah and felt the team failed to give him the same information.



Perez threatens not to co-operate

Sergio has also threatened to withdraw his well documented co-operation to help his team mate unless the same goodwill flows in the other direction.

So far this year the Red Bull pit have found themselves with little or nothing contentious to deal with, but the simmering divisions remain.

Perez was lauded by his race engineer, Hugh Bird, as the “King of the Streets” after he crossed the line 2.1 sec clear of Verstappen to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

And with two of the next three F1 races being street style circuits, Sergio’s expectations will be high in Miami and Monaco.

Wolff ‘naive’ suggestion to FIA



Perez coded message to his pit crew

Of course were Perez to take the lead in the drivers’ championship by winning next time out in Florida, Vertsappen would be most unhappy.

Sky’s Ted Kravitz believes there were signs of the Red Bull divisions as the race concluded in Baku.

“I thought the Perez radio message was interesting, when he said: ‘Look, guys, we are still in the fight’.

“It sounded like Perez was talking to his engineer and mechanics only, and not the rest of the team.”

“He was saying: ‘We are still in the fight, we can’t have issues like we did in Melbourne and we can still get this championship.”



Car to blame in Aus?

Perez is still clearly sore because of the goings on in Melbourne which saw him repeatedly go off the circuit during free practice three.

Checo repeated this on the first lap of qualifying, was stuck in the gravel trap and started the Australian GP plumb last.

After qualifying the Mexican claimed the handling of the car was causing him to lose control.

“Already in FP3 we had this issue, we thought we had fixed it, but obviously we didn’t.”

Vasseur crushes paddock rumour



Sergio sore over Melbourne blame

However, team boss Christian Honer contradicted his driver stating the car was not at fault and it was Perez responsibility.

“It’s something that they control in the car. I think we had a bit of the engine running on in P3, but the levels that we saw in qualifying were nothing abnormal.”

So Kravitz conclusion from the Baku team radio rallying call to his engineers is that Perez believes there is an ‘us and them’ division within the team as he attempts to motivate those on his side.

The long standing Sky pit lane reporter also saw a depth of meaning in Christian Horner’s consolation to his star driver after Max finished second.



Horner calms his ‘favoured son’

“You’ve got Horner on the pit wall, with what sounded like reassuring radio messages to Max, saying: ‘Never mind, Checo got lucky with the Safety Car, but it’s a long, long season’,” noted Kravitz.

“That, to my ears and to anyone reasonable, sounds like Horner saying to Max: ‘Look, don’t worry, you’re still our man for the championship’.” 

“Checo is thinking: ‘Hang on, I’ll fight tooth and nail to be the man to fight for the championship’.”

In his round up of the race, Kravitz also questioned the Red Bull strategy call to pit Verstappen while Nyck de Vries stricken Alpha Tauri remained on track and a safety car was imminent.

Red Bull defy pit lane regulations



Verstappen suffered ‘the odd call’

Ted described the decision to bring Verstappen in at that time as an “odd call”.

“I’m going to call it the odd call,” he said. “They could have, if there was a button on the de-rig, say ‘stay out! Stay out!’

“They didn’t know. It was a very close thing. I reckon they probably would have had less than 10 seconds to tell Max to stay out.”

Of course Kravitz knows full well six seconds is an eternity of time to have reversed the call for Max to make his pit stop. Yet the speculation now hangs in the air as to whether Red Bull engineered Perez taking the lead of the race and the win. 

Verstappen calls for review of pit stop call



Rumours of internal divisions grow

Rumours of internal team divisions grow stronger.

It’s harder to argue Formula One is boring even if one team is uber dominant – so long as both their drivers are locked in a titanic battle for the championship.

Kravitz concludes had the team told Max to stay out, “Verstappen would have won this grand prix. Perez had the pace today. That’s the crucial thing. Max and Sergio were so tightly matched today.”

Today the teams are travelling a third of the way around the world – some 7000 miles – to the upcoming Grand Prix of Miami.



Miami street circuit up next

Last year Ferrari were one and two in qualifying with the Red Bull pair sat right behind them.

Ferrari again look to have the one lap pace advantage over the world champions this year and a starting grid with Verstappen and Perez on the second row will add spice to the start of the race.

As “King of the Streets” Perez will fancy his chances at the circuit which wends its way around the Miami Dolphins Football Stadium and hope he doesn’t suffer a recurrence of the engine misfires which cost him a shot at the twin last year.

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One response to “Divisions growing in Red Bull camp

  1. I think it’s time Kravitz kept his comments to what has ACTUALLY happened/been said rather than making up ‘divisions’ because that suits HIS narrative! Marks full of his own importance: jerk!

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