Christian Horner reveals behind-the-scenes talks between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez after sprint tension

Thomas Maher
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in conversation with Christian Horner and Helmut Marko at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen in conversation with Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.

Christian Horner has revealed how tensions between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were cooled after Saturday’s sprint race.

The two Red Bull drivers had a showdown during the first lap of Saturday’s Sprint race, after Perez made a better getaway from second place on the grid to take the lead ahead of Max Verstappen into Turn 1.

Perez proceeded to move across on his teammate on the run out of Turn 1, forcing the Dutch driver onto the grass, before Verstappen asserted himself into Turn 3 with a late-braking move that saw him force the Mexican driver to back off on the apex after pushing him a little wide.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez show signs of tension

Both drivers got on the radio to complain about each other, with Perez asking “What’s wrong with Max?” after the move, while Verstappen later labelled Perez’s move out of Turn 1 as “Not okay”.

Both downplayed the moment as they spoke to the media in the wake of the race, having been seen having discussions with each other ahead of the media interviews, while Helmut Marko showed his displeasure with Perez’s aggression as he spoke to Austrian broadcaster ORF.

“Pushing someone else onto the grass, especially in wet conditions – it was not exactly good teamwork,” he said.

“Everything after the first corner was unnecessary. It was to be expected that Max would then be aggressive in the third corner.

“But I’ll have to take a closer look and talk to Checo [Perez]. I’ll listen to what his position is. But in the end, everything worked out anyway because Max drove away in front.”

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With Verstappen dominating Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix from pole position, Perez never had the chance to bring the fight to his teammate as he started from 15th on the grid – winding up in third after a feisty recovery drive.

With the pressure of the weekend behind him, Christian Horner was asked about what he’d had to do to cool off Verstappen and Perez following the Saturday Sprint.

“We sat down and we had a chat last night and, already, you could see the drivers talked about it after the race,” he told Sky F1.

“Qualifying with Sergio on Friday was the frustrating part, you could see he had such great pace today and his recovery was fantastic and he got a great result out of it in the end.

“They have a very open and honest relationship and I think… we discussed it in the debrief.

“I think Checo genuinely didn’t see Max there and had a wobble out of the first turn. Checo said he didn’t see him and we believe that. Max obviously believes that so, as far as we’re concerned, it was already put to bed yesterday afternoon.”

With Perez having recovered to third place, Horner was full of praise for the Mexican’s strong drive after a run of poor race weekends.

“If you look at his pace, particularly when he got clear air, his pace was fine,” he said.

“The problem is, when you start down in 15th or so, the amount of time you lose coming through the traffic, you’ve lost touch with the leaders – that’s what took any chances away of a victory for him today but his recovery was outstanding.”

Perez himself was beaming after his race, having come into the weekend under a cloud after his poor results and a bout with illness that saw him miss the media day on Thursday.

“I’m really happy. It’s been a very difficult weekend for me personally,” he said.

“Physically, I have been really, really weak. I was sick on Thursday, so it hasn’t been an easy weekend. High fevers, no sleep during the weekend. So a great recovery from the team, a fantastic strategy, and we had great pace.

“We went very hard, but it was fair. It’s always a pleasure to raise him. Ferrari were very strong, especially in the low-speed traction, but it’s a good comeback.”

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