It is a rare and significant situation for a Formula 1 driver to deliberately disparage a teammate and challenge their team just to secure a point, as Max Verstappen did at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen took revenge on Sergio Perez for an incident months ago when he refused Red Bull’s order to make a late pass to Perez’s bid to finish second in the championship.
In the year Although not quite as high as the Multi 21 dispute between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in 2013, Verstappen’s overturning of Red Bull’s order was an echo of that embarrassing incident.
Unlike Vettel’s decision over Webber nine years ago, this one was not about winning a grand prix. But it was another case of Red Bull’s lead driver being a cheater – and when Verstappen revealed after the race that he was making amends for the previous incident, the full picture became clear. And it’s very emotional.
According to Verstappen after the race, he looks even at him and Perez. Verstappen says Perez will force Verstappen if he wants his help in Abu Dhabi next weekend. Red Bull has made it clear that it expects this.
Is the case closed? Well, first, let’s see if Verstappen can really help if needed.
But beyond that, because of this there is unnecessary risk in another very successful red bull variable.
It’s clear that Perez’s faith in the team and his team-mate was shaken because there was a short look from Verstappen.
Asked by The Race whether we should expect it to be different in Abu Dhabi, Perez said it’s not just about the finale, but going forward.
“We always put the team before our needs,” Perez said.
It is important for you to feel that you have an equal opportunity in the group, we suggest.
“Yes, of course,” he replied. “Otherwise, it makes no sense to me.”
Now, Verstappen doesn’t necessarily care as Perez feels highly regarded at Red Bull.
But he should not forget that having his teammate on his side is beneficial.
Other champions recognize the need to compromise, even if it means giving up an easy comeback victory, as Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell once did for their support partners, or Lewis Hamilton did for Valtteri Bottas in Hungary in 2017. .
Even Nico Rosberg stepped aside at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix at the height of Mercedes’ rivalry with Hamilton, even if it meant a direct shot at his own championship lead – because that was the best thing for Mercedes.
The point is, there are numerous examples from history – recent and beyond – of drivers putting their own interests aside for the sake of the bigger picture. Verstappen’s individuality doesn’t go down as one.
He is the center of the Red Bull universe and generally avoids in the sense that what is good for him is good for the team.
But Verstappen needs Perez’s help from time to time. Just think of the crucial role Perez played in Abu Dhabi last year when he upstaged Verstappen’s title rival Lewis Hamilton. And Verstappen must know to rely on Perez when those moments come.
For the moment, Perez dominates the team’s game flawlessly. He knows his role, contributes to an environment that gets the best out of Verstappen, and always respects team orders even if he doesn’t agree with them.
But if, to use his own words, he thinks it makes no sense to be in a team where no help costs Verstappen, then why does he continue to buy into that ethos? That’s a risk Verstappen needlessly caused.
Respecting the order of the team would have shown Perez, Red Bull and the wider world that Verstappen can play his team game.
And it would have come at a small cost to Verstappen, who just weeks earlier had finished the world championship and broken the record for most wins in a season by finishing sixth or seventh.
This was a cheap way to win favor. To prove a point, Verstappen traded in a team he already owned, one that was already subordinate to his teammate.