Christian Horner addresses Max Verstappen favouritism as Sergio Perez responds – F1 news round-up

Jamie Woodhouse
Christian Horner with Max Verstappen. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner speaks to Max Verstappen in the garage. France July 2022.

The 2023 Dutch Grand Prix is in the books, a chaotic day of Formula 1 action which has sparked plenty of key talking points.

There were suggestions of Red Bull favouring Max Verstappen over Sergio Perez after a key strategical call went his way, while Perez, like Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, has had his say on the claim.

Let us then get stuck into the action…

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Christian Horner denies Max Verstappen favouritism

This all stemmed from wet-weather chaos early in the race, where as the track dried, Verstappen was able to undercut Perez in a strategical decision which Perez, leading at the time, appeared to be in the dark about.

Horner though was quick to shut down the bubbling speculation that it had been Red Bull’s intention to get Verstappen, who went on to win for a record-equalling ninth time in a row, ahead of his team-mate.

“We’d obviously had [Fernando] Alonso taking the slicks as well, and I think it was [Pierre] Gasly behind him, and the pace of the undercut, if we’d have pitted Checo first and Max the second lap, we had the risk of coming out after that had shaken down as being first and fourth,” he explained to Sky F1.

Read more: Christian Horner grilled after suspicions of Max Verstappen favouritism at Dutch GP

Sergio Perez sure Red Bull had a valid reason

Perez ultimately was classified P4, a pit-lane speeding incident and resulting five-second penalty having dropped him off the podium, though he felt no reason to question that Red Bull strategy decision which saw him lose the lead.

“I think that, on those scenarios, the team just has more information than we do at the time,” he told media including

“So it’s something we obviously will review during the [post-race] meeting, and I’m sure there’s a reason behind it.”

Read more: Sergio Perez weighs in on Max Verstappen undercut and explains podium loss error recommends

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Mercedes reeling from strategy catastrophe

While Red Bull’s work on the pit wall ultimately proved to be race winning, Mercedes found themselves at the other end of the scale.

Leaving Lewis Hamilton out until Lap 3 with slick tyres on an increasingly wet track, and Russell a lap later, the team went from Hamilton believing he could challenge the top two, to a P6 finish being the best he could do.

Neither driver are happy with their team, Mercedes forecasting a two-minute rain burst which lasted more like 10, and Wolff promises a review is coming.

“I think we stayed out catastrophically too long,” Wolff admitted to Sky F1.

“We will review thoroughly, and the situation is never one person or one department.”

Read more: Toto Wolff promises ‘thorough’ Mercedes review following ‘catastrophic’ strategy errors

Lance Stroll not quitting Formula 1 for tennis career

This rumour was started earlier in the season that Stroll could be looking to hang up the gloves and helmet to pick up his racket to go pro, but at the Dutch Grand Prix, the Aston Martin driver was able to definitively put such talk to bed.

That dream match of Novak Djokovic versus Lance Stroll sadly then is not happening.

“I mean, I like to think I’m pretty good. But I don’t know if I’m ready to go up against [Novak] Djokovic and [Carlos] Alcaraz just yet,” he told media, including, with a smile.

Read more: New balls please? Lance Stroll responds to crazy tennis career switch rumour

Felipe Massa delivers serious Fernando Alonso accusation

A more serious matter currently unfolding though involves former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who is seeking compensation over his 2008 title loss to Lewis Hamilton, following ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s bombshell reveal that the 2008 Singapore GP, tainted by the ‘Crashgate’ scandal, should have been cancelled with F1 and the FIA in the know.

Alonso of course was the driver who benefitted from that Renault fix as he claimed the win, and Massa has alleged that Alonso knew all about what was planned, rather than being an innocent benefactor.

“Logically, Fernando always insinuated that it wasn’t his fault, but he always changed the subject,” Massa told the Brazilian subsidiary of of his past chats with Alonso on the matter.

“I never had a clear conversation, when a person accepts and talks is when that person is clear about things.

“When the person doesn’t want to talk in the right way, we know that maybe he knew everything. I’m sure he knew it.”

Read more: Felipe Massa alleges Fernando Alonso had full knowledge of ‘Crashgate’ set-up

Read next: Lewis Hamilton and George Russell slam Mercedes Dutch GP weather mishap