Red Bull have issued a statement in an attempt to draw a line under the row which broke out between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
Verstappen ignored a team order to let Perez pass him in the closing stages. The extra points for sixth place would have helped the Mexican in his battle to secure second place in the drivers’ standings ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Straight after the race, Verstappen told his engineer: “I told you already last time. Guys, don’t ask that again to me. Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
READ MORE: Power-tripping Max Verstappen has thrown Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez under the bus
Team principal Christian Horner apologised over team radio to Perez, who said: “This shows who he really is.”
Verstappen told the media he refused to pull over because of something that happened earlier this season but refused to say what it was. It is widely thought that Verstappen felt Perez crashed deliberately during Monaco qualifying in May and took “revenge” in Brazil. The crash meant Perez started ahead of his teammate, with the Mexican going on to win the race.
Ahead of this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, both Verstappen and Perez have insisted they have moved on and still have a good relationship. Meanwhile, Red Bull have issued a statement that seems an attempt to exonerate Verstappen of any blame.
The statement said: “As a team we made some mistakes in Brazil. We had not envisaged the situation that unfolded on the last lap and we had not agreed a strategy for such a scenario before the race.
“Regretfully, Max was only informed at the final corner of the request to give up position without all the necessary information being relayed. This put Max, who has always been an open and fair team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react which was not our intention.”
However, for many people, the statement has thrown up more questions than answers, especially the claim that Verstappen wasn’t told to move over until the final corner in Brazil.
Speaking on the Chequered Flag podcast, the BBC’s respected F1 correspondent Andrew Benson said: “Some of the things in this statement are misleading, to say the least. They said Verstappen wasn’t told until the final corner to let Perez through. That isn’t true, he got a radio message coming out of turn four on the final lap for the first time. Then he was told three times coming out of turn 12.
“So I don’t know why they’ve put something out that people can check back just by listening to the radio messages.
“The second thing is, they’re still not saying what it is that provoked Verstappen to take the action he did. They are saying they discussed everything, [that] everything is out in the open and it’s all behind them.
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“The belief in the paddock – a number of sources have told me this – is that Verstappen believes Perez crashed deliberately in Monaco qualifying, on the final runs. That stopped Verstappen improving [his time] and beating Perez. Verstappen has harboured that grudge since then.”
Meanwhile, pundit Martin Brundle, speaking on Sky Sports, said the statement felt like an apology to Verstappen, who has come in for widespread criticism over the last week.
“That [the statement over team radio after the race] was strategic from Max," said Brundle. "He could have gone back in the pits [after the race], closed the door and had a shout at everybody. He wanted them to tell him that morning that’s what they were going to do [help Perez to finish second in the championship].
“The team have had to put an apology out to Max and not Checo. It was a power play from Max as far as I’m concerned.”
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