Verstappen-Perez tension “not healthy” for Red Bull - McLaren boss | Top Gear
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Verstappen-Perez tension “not healthy” for Red Bull - McLaren boss

Max Verstappen risks future "payback" by refusing to help out teammate Sergio Perez, Zak Brown tells TG

Published: 17 Nov 2022
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The team orders controversy between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at last week’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix is “not healthy” for Red Bull, McLaren boss Zak Brown has told TG.

In Brazil Verstappen was asked to let Perez by to aid the Mexican’s bid to finish second in the championship ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, but the world champion refused, saying on the radio: “I have my reasons, and I stand by it.”

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It cost Perez - who was instrumental in helping Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the title last season - two points in the championship, and he’s now level with Leclerc heading into this weekend’s finale.

Perez responded angrily in Brazil, saying “it shows who he really is", and afterwards team principal Christian Horner held talks with both drivers, later insisting the Dutchman would help his teammate at the curtain-closer in Abu Dhabi.

At the reveal of the one-off livery McLaren will be running in Abu Dhabi this weekend, TG asked McLaren boss Zak Brown how he would’ve managed the situation had he been in the same position.

“So I don’t know how they managed it, but the minute you see something flare up, you address it,” explained Brown. “Maybe they [already] had and it flipped, but if clearly that is about Monaco - which it appears it is - he’s been holding that frustration or grudge for quite some time.”

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Verstappen hasn’t said anything publicly about his reasoning, but many have speculated that it all goes back to qualifying in Monaco in May, where Perez crashed and prevented Verstappen from setting a faster time.

There was no suggestion then that Perez’s shunt was intentional, and having started third and fourth on the grid, the Mexican went on to take the chequered flag as Verstappen grabbed the final spot on the podium.

Nor has there been any sign of tension between the drivers since, and with the Dutchman securing his second world title in Japan several weeks ago, it makes the spat over P6 and P7 all the more bizarre.

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“I think the disappointing thing there was whatever the friction is between Max and Sergio, the team also wants to finish second in the championship,” added Brown “So him defying orders wasn’t just detrimental to Perez, but also to Red Bull.”

Red Bull of course sealed the constructors’ championship in Austin last month, its first title since 2013 and one that breaks eight years of Mercedes domination.

Despite winning four straight constructors’ crowns from 2010 onwards, Red Bull has never had both of its drivers finish first and second in the drivers’ standings.

Would Verstappen have been better playing the long game by helping out a teammate who’s done the same for him multiple times before?

“It certainly wouldn’t have caused him any harm falling from sixth to seventh,” said Brown. “The problem with these things… now Sergio will remember that and there could come a time that there’s payback. And that’s where you’ve got to get that relationship under control.

“These drivers have good memories, Sergio might get him back and you never even know it was intentional. It could just be Sergio next time letting Lewis Hamilton by and not putting up a great defence. So it’s not healthy.”

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