Christian Horner highlights Red Bull’s one ‘mistake’ in their Sao Paulo team order row

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, scratching head next to Sergio Perez. Suzuka October 2022.

Max Verstappen scratching head next to Sergio Perez after the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka October 2022.

Christian Horner has blamed a lack of communication for last season’s team order argument at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, calling that the “root cause” of the drama.

Red Bull went into the Interlagos race chasing the 1-2 in the Drivers’ Championship with Max Verstappen have already wrapped up the World title in Japan while the team secured the Constructors’ in Austin.

They wanted the runner-up spot for Sergio Perez to cap a near-perfect season.

Instead they found themselves making headlines for all the wrong reasons as, on a weekend where Red Bull were surprisingly off the pace, cracks appeared in Verstappen and Perez’s relationship.

Perez was running P6 when he was asked to move over for Verstappen, the caveat being that his team-mate would give him back the position if he wasn’t able to catch and pass those ahead of him.

He couldn’t and, told to give back the position to Perez, he blatantly refused to, telling the team after crossing the line ahead of his team-mate: “I told you already last summer. You guys don’t ask that again to me, ok? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”

It was speculated that Verstappen’s comment had something to do with Monaco where Perez crashed in qualifying, that incident allowing him to line up ahead of the Dutchman on the grid. Perez went onto win the race.

Horner has all but denied this, adamant Verstappen’s refusal stemmed from a communication issue.

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“I think the root cause of the problem was we had never envisaged being in a situation, being in the final few laps, being in sixth and seventh place in that grand prix,” he said as per the official F1 website.

“And I think it was something that, as we hadn’t envisaged it, we hadn’t discussed it before the race, and I think that was a mistake on our part, that we should have thought through or tried to think through every single scenario.

“And so, I think that was a mistake as a team that we didn’t discuss it and come up with a very clear plan. Obviously, it was unfortunate what happened, but it was quickly discussed, openly and transparently.

“And both drivers were very clear, open, and honest with each other, and from that as a team we move on and the dynamic between the drivers is absolutely fine.”

While Perez lashed out at Verstappen for showing who he “really is”, it wasn’t long before the Mexican driver was apologising for his comment.

Red Bull sat the drivers down to hash it out, Horner saying the team “learned” valuable lessons from that.

“I think we made some mistakes in Brazil, we’ve learned from that and as I say, we move on. We’ve done some amazing things,” added Horner.

“These two drivers have performed incredibly well together. They’re the reason that we are in the position that we are.

“Max’s season was on another planet last year. So, we’re not going to let the events of a couple of laps in Brazil dictate the year for us.”