Max Verstappen burns Red Bull teammate in brewing F1 controversy

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are pictured side by side.
Max Verstappen's refusal to let Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez past at the Brazilian GP has created friction within the F1 team. Pictures: Getty Images

Tension that had been brewing in the Red Bull garage for months finally came to the surface at the Brazilian GP when Max Verstappen burned teammate Sergio Perez, but critics have questioned the Dutchman's wisdom in doing so.

Verstappen, who secured his second F1 drivers championship several weeks earlier, defied a team order from Red Bull to let Perez pass him for sixth in Brazil, which would have aided his fight for second in the championship standings with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

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Ordered to move aside so Perez could claim a small points buffer over Leclerc heading into the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen was instead furious at his team for asking him to let his teammate by.

Later saying he 'gave my reasons' for not doing so over the team radio on the cooldown lap, Red Bull hosted a decidedly frosty debrief session in the minutes after the race.

Verstappen has since declared he will do whatever is required to aid Perez in his fight for second in the championship in Abu Dhabi, but maintained he stood by his decision not to allow his teammate past.

"I have my reasons for that. We just discussed that, and I think it was better that we finally sat together and spoke about it, and just moved forward from here," Verstappen said.

“For sure, if we go to Abu Dhabi and he needs the points, because they’re tied, it’s not the end of the world, it’s all about who finishes ahead anyway. If he needs the help, I’ll be there.

“But it’s good that we talked about it now and basically cleared everything that was there why I didn’t do it.”

Some speculation has linked Verstappen's stubbornness to Perez's crash in qualifying back at the Monaco GP earlier this year, which denied Verstappen a chance to secure the first spot on the grid - which instead went to Leclerc.

While it hasn't yet been established that was the reason why, Verstappen has said he now considers he and Perez 'even'.

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It remains to be seen whether bygones will be bygones when F1 rounds out the season in Abu Dhabi.

Perez played a critical role in Verstappen's back to back world championships, playing a valuable role in last year's controversial decider in Abu Dhabi by holding up eventual championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton, setting up the final lap showdown.

The Mexican driver has also frequently played a rear-gunner to Verstappen in this year's championship, which he had sewn up after the Japanese GP.

We will always put the team in front of our interests,” Perez said, adding that it made 'no sense' for him to race if he was always going to be burned by a more favoured teammate.

Perez has performed well since joining Red Bull last season, fitting comfortably into the second driver role the team struggled to fill with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.

Sergio Perez celebrates with the Red Bull team after winning the 2022 Singapore GP.
Sergio Perez has performed well for Red Bull since joining the team ahead of the 2021 season, but faces a tense final race of the season with teammate Max Verstappen. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

George Russell took an emotional first F1 victory to end a season-long blank for Mercedes in a one-two with seven-times world champion Hamilton in Brazil.

Russell led from the start at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit after winning Saturday's 100km sprint, a race that determined Sunday's starting grid, to halt a run of nine wins in a row by champions Red Bull.

"This is just the beginning," Russell shouted over the team radio after being told he was a Formula One winner, the 113th in the history of the sport.

"I knew we could do this. I might need some tissues - I'm crying."

Hamilton, winner of a record 103 races and three in Brazil, congratulated his teammate for an "amazing drive".

"He did an amazing qualifying yesterday, so he truly deserves it ... this is an incredible result," the 37-year-old said.

With AAP

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