BRAZIL: Due to Max Verstappen’s apparent inability to let go of his resentment regarding Sergio Perez’s single error as his teammate, Red Bull may have lost out on a 1-2 championship finish.
Max Verstappen collided with Lewis Hamilton early in Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The double Formula 1 World Champions’ “you yield or we crash” mentality made him come off worse than the two.
In addition to having to pit for a new front wing, the stewards awarded him a five-second time penalty for causing the collision. In the stewards’ report of the penalty, the five-second penalty was for “pushing Lewis off track.”
The collision and the penalty meant that Verstappen was P7, behind his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who was P3 as the race entered its final stint, which saw the power unit failure of Lando Norris that resulted in the deployment of the safety car.
On older medium compound tires, Sergio Perez lost a flurry of positions at the restart as his rival drivers had the opportunity to pit for newer soft compounds under the safety car. He soon found himself in P7 behind Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen aimed to overtake Fernando Alonso. He could’ve overtaken Charles Leclerc to take P4 off the Ferrari driver and assist his Red Bull teammate in his battle for 2nd in the drivers’ standings.
The Dutchman had an easy path to sixth. However, if he could not pass Alonso, he would hand Perez the position back, and sixth place would be worth two points more than seventh.
Max Verstappen’s engineer asked Max to concede the position to his teammate, which he ignored completely.
After the race ended, he justified his action by saying that he had already told the team that he would not hand positions to his Red Bull teammate earlier in the summer.
Sergio responded over the team radio, saying it showed “who Max Verstappen really is.”
The incident raises questions about what happened in the summer, which had enraged the two-time champion to the extent that he refused to help his team and teammate.
The incident is even more baffling since Max Verstappen had nothing to lose by relinquishing the position as he had already secured the championship.
Max Verstappen had called Sergio Perez a “legend” after the Mexican had slowed down Lewis Hamilton by over 8-seconds in the title decider in Abu Dhabi, which was pivotal in the victory of Max Verstappen and the subsequent crowing as the new world champion.
According to rumours circulating in the media, Sergio Perez’s crash in Q3 in Monaco seems to have caused a rift in the Red Bull team.
Perez was the third-fastest driver in the final qualifying session at the Monaco Grand Prix, but he crashed his RB16, effectively ending the session.
Because there was not enough time to restart the session after his accident, he qualified third, behind the Ferraris. Verstappen finished fourth, 0.028s behind his teammate. The rain on race day and Ferrari’s strategies made it easier for Perez to claim the race victory.
The Monaco GP was the driver’s first win of the season, joining Verstappen on the list of winners, Verstappen already having four at the time.
Perez later admitted to his Red Bull bosses, Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, that he had “intentionally caused the accident” to stay in front of the Dutchman on the starting grid, which is particularly important in the street race.
Verstappen had his retribution six months later, after ten victories and a World title. The media asked Max about his refusal to hand over the position had something to do with something that had happened in the past. He responded with “Yes.”
When specifically asked if it had anything to do with Monaco, he said that it is something “you must decide for yourself.”
On the other hand, Sergio Perez states that he has “no idea” what Verstappen was holding against him. He continued that he had nothing to say about the incident.
Perez added that it was a little disappointing after everything he had done for Max Verstappen as his teammate. “I’m shocked beyond belief,” he said.
Max Verstappen might have cost Perez the Drivers’ Championship title. Red Bull may have lost out on a first-ever 1-2 finish in the standings because of him.
However, in the eyes of the majority, his reputation was undoubtedly harmed by the team orders incident.
The short-sighted nature of his on-track antics visibly raises doubts over if he would receive the same animosity from the Mexican driver in the future that he had enjoyed time and again in the past.