(Motorsport-Total.com) – Shortly before the end of the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. Max Verstappen received an unmistakable radio message from his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: “Max, please let Checo pass.” But that’s exactly what Verstappen doesn’t do: after 71 race laps he crosses the finish line ahead of Perez and finishes sixth, Perez is seventh. And the situation escalates immediately.
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Sergio Perez with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in the 2022 Formula 1 season
Perez, who had also been briefed shortly before that a trade was coming, said bitterly on the radio: “Yeah, thanks for that, guys! Thanks!”
Then Red Bull team principal Christian Horner turns on the Perez radio: “I’m sorry, Checo.” Perez engineer Hugh Bird added, “We’ll discuss all of this.”
But Perez has heard enough and simply says, “That shows who he really is!”
How Verstappen justifies his behavior
And Verstappen? He also reports on the radio, but knows no guilt – on the contrary: “I told you last time. Don’t ask me that again, okay? Is that clear? I’ve given my reasons. And I’ll stick to that.” “
But the two-time Formula 1 world champion is silent about the reasons. Later, in his press rounds, he merely repeated what he said on the radio: “Well, I have my reasons.” Speaking to ‘Sky’ England, he added: “The [Gründe] I don’t want to mention it here.”
When asked if anything has happened that could explain his behaviour, Verstappen replies: “Yes, it is.” He doesn’t say more about it.
The theory of a Verstappen expert
Tom Coronel, connoisseur of the Verstappen family and Formula 1 expert on Dutch television, believes he knows the background and indicates on ‘ViaPlay’ that Perez deliberately caused an accident in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix and that later also has done confessed the team leadership around Helmut Marko and Christian Horner. Verstappen has not forgotten the incident.
What exactly happened in Monaco in 2022: Indeed, Perez had an accident in the Q3 final of qualifying, well over half a minute before the time limit in the tunnel entrance passage. The incident prevented anyone from improving their lap times, not even Verstappen – and the next day Perez started the race from P3, directly ahead of Verstappen.
Perez has ‘no idea’ what Verstappen is planning
So far, no one at Red Bull has confirmed whether that, as Coronel claims, is the trigger for Verstappen’s dismay. Asked about Verstappen’s “reasons”, Perez merely shrugs and states that he has “no idea” what moved his teammate. “Maybe he should be asked about it. But then again, I have nothing to say about that.’
Postscript: “I’m really surprised. After all I’ve done for him, it’s honestly a bit disappointing.”
In an interview with a Spanish TV channel, Perez was even more explicit: “If he now has two world titles, it’s thanks to me.”
Last but not least, Perez should show his support in the final race of 2021 in Abu Dhabi, in which he first stopped Lewis Hamilton and later even gave up the race at the behest of Red Bull so as not to be a factor that could diminish Verstappen’s chances .
Perez and Verstappen shake hands
Now in Brazil, he received a clear message from the team in the final phase when Verstappen came after him. “I was told to let him through and I would get the position back,” said Perez. “I don’t know what was discussed with him.”
Photo gallery: Formula 1 2022 in Brazil: Sunday’s most important thing
The latter was one of the topics at a spontaneous Red Bull crisis meeting in a small circle. Team boss Horner was there, as were sports director Marko and Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen. The drivers were also present. Horner reveals: “They discussed it and shook hands.”
Marko keeps repeating the same sentences
Red Bull has not released any further details. Marko doesn’t even want to answer the ‘ORF’, but breaks off the interview and moves on to ‘Sky’, where he repeats the wording several times, which was probably agreed upon after the crisis meeting.
Marko just says: “Max will do everything he can in Abu Dhabi so that Checo can take second place in the World Cup. That has been done and clarified. And with this premise we are going to Abu Dhabi.”
When asked that Verstappen did not behave like that in Brazil, Marko said, without answering the question: “That is our statement and our plan for Abu Dhabi.”
‘Sky’ again asks if Verstappen has presented himself unworthy of a world champion, where Perez has supported him several times. Marko: “Again, what happened has now been discussed. Everything has been clarified internally.”
“We work as a team and the starting point is Abu Dhabi and Max will do everything to give Sergio that second place. That’s all I can say.”
Horner also does not respond to questions
Horner creates a similar, albeit slightly different, vocabulary by stepping in front of the mic on ‘Sky’ England. There he says: “We are discussing something internally. The drivers have also discussed it. They have a very clear point of view.”
“Checo is now level with Charles. Now we are going to Abu Dhabi as a team to do our best for Checo to achieve that second place. Max will fully support that.”
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Christian Horner and Helmut Marko are cautious about the situation zoom
Horner also dismisses all questions: “I will not say what was discussed behind closed doors. The drivers discussed it and shook hands. We are fully focused on the next race.”
“We discuss that in a wider circle at the debriefing. The bigger discussion is why we missed the pace today and this weekend. Everything comes on the table. And then it goes on.”
Horner: Red Bull now only has one goal
A tantalizing question follows whether Verstappen has the impression that he is bigger than the team if he behaves like this. Horner says no: “We work and race as a team.”
“Our goal is to give Checo second place in the World Championship. We have never achieved that as a team. Max is behind it. We will do our best in Abu Dhabi. It is a direct duel between Checo and Charles. Als Max can help one way or another, he will.”
Verstappen also emphasizes: Will help Perez!
That’s what Verstappen says now. He applauded the debate that had taken place. “Because we put everything on the table. Of course I also understand Checo’s perspective. He is disappointed. But I also gave my reasons why I didn’t do it – because of an incident in the past.”
There is now an “understanding” in the team, Verstappen emphasizes. “And now let’s look ahead. Checo and Charles will go straight to Abu Dhabi on points. And if he needs help to finish ahead of Charles, I’ll help him.”
“It’s not the end of the world. It all depends on who ends up for whom. And if he needs help, I’ll be there.”
“But it’s good that we talked about it. That made everything clear what was in the room and why I didn’t do it,” says Verstappen.
Ralf Schumacher: That shows Verstappen’s “selfishness”.
For his refusal to run the stables in Brazil, Ralf Schumacher declares that Verstappen, like his father Jos Verstappen, “has a bit of a street fighter mentality, a bit of selfishness,” he says on ‘Sky’.
“Of course he’s super successful, but something like that can also cost you the support in the team, and I don’t know if it’s worth something like that. Well, humanly and also as a payback, it’s not quite clean, you have to say it very clearly. “
“I think Sergio Pérez in his first year” [bei Red Bull] proved how much he can fight for the team and how much [Verstappen] helped him. I think that would have been a payback.”
Team boss Horner seems to think so too, at least as far as Perez’s abilities are concerned. Because he says: “Checo has done a fantastic job this year. He deserves this second place. As a team we will do our best to support him so that he can achieve that.”