Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have clashed after the former refused to give up track position and follow team orders at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Monday.
Verstappen finished the race in sixth, just ahead of teammate Perez in seventh, but it could have been different had the world champion followed team orders.
Perez had been told by his engineer Hugh Bird that if Verstappen could not overtake Fernando Alonso he would be given his place back, having allowed his teammate to pass earlier in the race.
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Verstappen was subsequently asked by his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, to let Perez pass as his teammate needed the championship points but Verstappen was defiant and ignored the orders.
When later asked “what happened” after the race, Verstappen again made it clear to the team that he would continue to have his way.
“I told you already,” Verstappen said.
“Guys, don’t ask me again. Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons. And I stand by it.”
Perez, meanwhile, said “it shows who he really is” in a telling radio message of his own.
“I was told to let him by and that I was going to get back the position,” Perez later said to Sky Sports explaining the incident.
“I don’t know what the complications were on his side. No idea, maybe you should ask him about it. Nothing to say really.
“After all I have done for him, it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. I am really surprised.”
Verstappen, meanwhile, was still just as tight-lipped on why he made the move when speaking to Sky Sports after the race.
“I have my reasons for that,” he said.
“We just discussed that. I think it was good that we finally just sat together and talked about it and basically just move forward from here.
“If we go to Abu Dhabi and he needs support, it is not the end of the world. It is all about who finishes ahead anyway.
“If he needs help, I am there. But it is good that we first talked about it now and cleared everything that was there and why I didn’t do it.”
Speaking about the incident on Sky Sports, Martin Brundle said Verstappen had made a statement in refusing to let his teammate pass.
“You can’t take a podium off your teammate for that,” Brundle said.
“That’s a very powerful radio message from Max Verstappen. That is I’m in charge around here. I call the shots.”
That decision meant that Perez now enters the final race of the season one point behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the fight for second place in the drivers’ championship.
Karun Chandhok warned on Sky Sports’ coverage that the decision could come back to haunt Verstappen next year in the championship race.
“Honestly I don’t understand it because he’s won the world championship,” he said.
“I think it’s a little bit short-sighted as well because he might need Checo’s help next year in the world championship. He needed him last year in Abu Dhabi, and he needed him again other times this year so for me that’s a little bit bit of a short-sighted decision.
“I go back to someone like Ayrton Senna, he gave up a win in Japan in 1991 to his teammate because he knew he wanted that loyalty. I think that’s a slightly short-sighted move there.”
Meanwhile, Red Bull boss Christian Horner did not want to divulge any details on what was discussed after the race but said the team had addressed the matter internally.
“The drivers were very, very clear and for us, Checo is now tied on points with Charles, Ferrari didn’t switch their cars around and we go into Abu Dhabi as a team to do the very best for Checo to get that second place,” he told Sky Sports.
“Max will fully support that. The drivers have discussed it, they have shaken hands, and we are focused on that next race.
“We work as a team, we race as a team, and our objective and our priority are to see if we can get Checo to finish runner-up in the championship.
“It is something we have never achieved as a team before and Max has given the commitment that we will be doing the best we can in Abu Dhabi to achieve that.
“It is a straight fight between Checo and Charles and if Max can help in any way, he will do.”
Horner added that the team will continue to discuss the incident but said the “bigger discussion” will center around why Red Bull was struggling for pace this weekend.
“Checo has done a phenomenal job all year and he deserves that second place and as a team, we will do our very best to support that and to achieve that in Abu Dhabi,” he concluded.