Red Bull's Formula One world champion Max Verstappen has lashed out at motorsport fans after finding himself at the centre of an ugly controversy involving teammate, Sergio Perez.
Verstappen has come under a mountain of criticism after defying team orders at the Brazilian Grand Prix, where he refused to let Perez pass him in the closing stages of the race.
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With Verstappen having already wrapped up his second F1 world title, Perez was eager to secure an extra point in his bid to beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to second place in the drivers’ championship this season, in order to secure Red Bull's maiden one-two finish.
Verstappen was asked at Interlagos to allow his Perez to pass him, but refused in a curt rebuke on team radio that left the Mexican driver and many close observers shocked.
The F1 world champ also refused to explain his motives and claimed critics did not know the "clear picture" after lashing out at some of the abuse he has copped on social media in the wake of the drama.
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 13, 2022
"After that race, I looked very bad in the media, but they didn't have the clear picture," said Verstappen.
"To put me down like that is ridiculous to be honest because they don't know how I work in the team and what the team appreciates about me.
"All the things I have read are pretty disgusting. Even more than that, they started attacking my family, my sister, my mum, my girlfriend and my dad.
"That definitely has to stop. If you have a problem with me, that is fine but don't go after my family.
"I hope one day they actually understand what was going on because it is unacceptable behaviour.
“So many people, and in this paddock to be honest, not only fans. A lot of people, what they have been writing about me is ridiculous."
Sergio Perez hoses down rumour from Monaco
Red Bull teammate Perez admitted that he was offended by Verstappen’s actions in Brazil and said the Dutch driver had shown his "true self".
Some media claimed Verstappen's reaction at Interlagos was in response to suggestions Perez had deliberately crashed in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix to hinder the Dutchman.
Perez went on to win in Monaco but at the Yas Marina circuit ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP, the Mexican denied he had crashed deliberately.
“The rumour is wrong," he said. "That is just speculation from the media out there and people creating rumours. I nearly crashed into turn one and everyone makes mistakes in Monaco or in general places in qualifying. It is not like it was done on purpose.”
Perez insisted the Monaco Grand Prix was not discussed within the team when they held an emergency meeting in Brazil, while Verstappen has so far refused to reveal his real reason for ignoring team orders.
"I just thought we were just going to race and try to get the best possible result. We had a bit of a miscommunication on Saturday and Sunday, nothing had been said to me about a potential swap," he said.
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