UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Red Bull released a statement saying they have accepted Max Verstappen’s reasons for not following the team’s orders at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix this past weekend, calling him an “open and fair team player.”
In the dying stages of the race, Max Verstappen was allowed to get past teammate Sergio Perez, who was in sixth place. However, the team gave the World Champion instructions to let the Mexican through in the final lap.
Perez was chasing second place in the Drivers’ Championship heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi. After allowing Verstappen to pass in the first place, Perez was furious when his teammate denied him the position and the extra points which come with it.
However, Max Verstappen stayed adamant regarding his stand on not letting Perez through and finished the race in sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez. When questioned by his race engineer, Verstappen radioed back, saying that he had made his stance clear last summer.
He told the team not to ask him to switch positions again. He said, “I gave my reasons, and I stand by it.” After the race, Perez said that Verstappen’s actions showed “who he really is.” However, he mentioned that the incident was over in social media posts since the fiasco.
In response to the drama surrounding their drivers last weekend, Red Bull has issued a statement in which they acknowledge that they made mistakes in handling the situation. However, they have also condemned the abuse they have received on social media.
Red Bull said they could not agree on a strategy for the situation that arose on the final lap and was clueless about how to tackle it. The team added that Verstappen was requested to give up his position at the end of his lap.
The team pointed out the online abuse by the fans of Sergio Perez, who targeted Sophie Kumpen, mother of Max Verstappen. Kumpen had commented on Instagram where she accused Sergio Perez of infidelity.
Ironically, in the onboard footage of the incident, it is evident that the team asked Verstappen multiple times over the last few laps to let Sergio through.
Max Verstappen’s race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, can be heard telling Verstappen that the team wanted him to let Perez past if Verstappen couldn’t overtake Fernando Alonso.