Perez Furious With Verstappen for Brazil F1 Snub: ‘After All I’ve Done for Him’
Drama and defiance are part of Red Bull Racing’s culture. This was once again evident between Verstappen and Checo at the Brazilian F1 GP.
Defying team orders is part of Red Bull Racing's culture. From Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel's famous "Multi 21" to various other instances through the revolving door of racing drivers that is the Milton Keynes' squad, drama is engrained in the Formula 1 team's dynamic. This behavior was again on display for the entire world to see at the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix on Sunday, when Max Verstappen ignored team orders and refused to let teammate Sergio Perez pass him for position on the final lap.
The nature of Red Bull's request to its leading driver was simple: Verstappen already won the drivers' world championship and no longer needs more points. Perez, on the other hand, is in a tight battle for second place in the championship against Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. With just a few laps to go on the Brazilian GP, Leclerc was set to finish fourth while Verstappen and Perez were running sixth and seventh. The order was to swap places in order to elevate Perez to sixth. This would've given him a two-point lead over Leclerc heading into the final race of the year.
It wasn't until first-time winner George Russell crossed the finish line that it became obvious that Verstappen had no intention to let Perez by and help him out. More importantly, it was clear that the two-time world champion, despite having been greatly benefited by Perez on countless occasions, was going to hang on to a position he didn't exactly need simply because of "reasons." It was at that point that the now-famous radio recording surfaced on F1's global feed.
“Max, what happened?” race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase asked Verstappen over the radio, reminding his driver he had been instructed multiple times to let Perez by. “I told you already last time, you guys don't ask that again to me, OK? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it,” replied the two-time world champ.
Verstappen's refusal to help Perez can be seen as something perfectly normal in the sporting world, especially in motor racing. It is, after all, a dog-eat-dog world out there. However, Verstappen has previously admitted how much assistance he's enjoyed from Perez in order to secure his titles, going as far as calling him "a legend" in Abu Dhabi in 2021. It's quite a fall from heaven for Checo to go from legend to unworthy of a one-place swap in his teammate's eyes.
Both Red Bull drivers were summoned behind closed doors after completing their post-race media commitments, where the duo claims to have held animated discussions about Verstappen's behavior. Of course, that didn't stop the Mexican driver from making his own statements to Sky F1 Sports.
"After all I've done for him, it's a bit disappointing to be honest," Perez told the publication. This was in addition to the original radio transmission from Perez, where he claims his teammate's actions “show who he really is.”
Rumors claim that Verstappen's refusal to follow orders stems back to this year's Monaco Grand Prix, where Perez's last-lap crash during Q3 left Verstappen unable to set a flying lap and possibly earn pole. This eventually snow-balled to Perez winning on Sunday and Verstappen feeling frustrated over the team's decisions to not intervene to help him out. I personally find these rumors a bit ridiculous, but crazier things have happened in F1. Team principal Christian Horner claims Verstappen's reasons were discussed internally and will not be divulged to the media, further adding that his lead driver will support Perez in Abu Dhabi.
“It's something we discussed obviously, behind closed doors, the drivers have discussed it,” said Horner to F1.com. “And as a team our focus very much going into Abu Dhabi with Charles and Checo tied on points is to do our best that we can to support Checo to achieve second place, and Max has obviously made that commitment as well. So as far as we're concerned, it's about looking forward not looking backwards.”
Perez now heads into the final round tied for second place with Leclerc with 290 points. Should neither driver score—or somehow tie again—the Ferrari man would have an advantage due to his three race wins this year over Perez's two. For what it's worth, Verstappen now has a staggering 429 points. That's 139 points more than Leclerc.
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