Jolyon Palmer can see why Max Verstappen is suspicious of Sergio Perez’s Monaco crash, but says that was no excuse for his actions.
Verstappen caused a stir at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when he ignored the order from Red Bull to yield P6 to team-mate Sergio Perez, who earlier in the race had gone along with his team’s request to let Verstappen through.
Asked by Red Bull to explain himself, Verstappen said over the radio that they know his reasons, but nobody from Red Bull has revealed them, neither has the two drivers.
There is speculation, which it must be stressed is unconfirmed, that Verstappen’s actions were in response to Perez’s qualifying crash at the Monaco Grand Prix this year, which cost Verstappen the opportunity to push for better than his P4 spot on the grid.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Palmer, as part of his Sao Paulo GP analysis for the Formula 1 website, took a look back at Perez’s crash in Monaco.
In his opinion, the nature of the crash looked a little suspect, so if this is what has irked Verstappen, then he can understand why.
“Right at the end [of qualifying] he had this crash and it denied Max Verstappen a chance to get ahead of his team-mate,” Palmer began.
“So we can have a look at Perez onboard, coming through towards his crash, and he comes into Portier, you could just hear spike of throttle and he loses control of the car.
“Now, at the time, we didn’t think a huge amount of this. Drivers crash in Monaco, it happens, it’s a very tough street circuit. And it sort of seemed like Perez had little to gain, he was already in third behind both Ferraris. Was he just pushing hard to try and beat the Ferraris and trying to do the impossible?
“But actually, looking at it with more detail, I can see why it looks a little bit fishy for Verstappen. Checo comes in, he’s turning in, and there’s a big spike of throttle as he just plants the gas hard, but then also interestingly, once he loses control of the car, there’s no attempt to have a big opposite lock and try and save control.
“If you look at the steering wheel, he straightens it up. But he never goes more than that. And he’s almost resigned straightaway to his fate.
“The natural instinct of the driver is to just plant on opposite lock and try and save the car. So not only does he jump on the gas, which seems to instigate the spin, but he also is fairly resigned to his fate as soon as he does that. And maybe that would have happened anyway? The wall at Portier comes at you pretty quickly.”
However, even if Verstappen is suspicious of that crash from Perez, Palmer does not agree with the way that Verstappen demonstrated this.
He sees little sense in Verstappen refusing to yield P6, a position which meant nothing to him, but a lot for Perez and Red Bull in the pursuit of P2 in the Drivers’ standings.
So, add that to the possibility of Ferrari and Mercedes joining the 2023 title fight, where Verstappen may well need Perez’s support again, Palmer branded the decision “small-minded”.
“For Verstappen, you think ‘why on earth would you not give up sixth position?’ He held on for his third-worst finish of the season out of 21 races,” said Palmer.
“It was a baffling choice by Max to not help his team-mate out and this is a team-mate that’s helped out quite well in the past, including probably helping him to the championship in Abu Dhabi last year.
“Without Checo’s defence, maybe even with the Safety Car, [Lewis] Hamilton has a free pit stop to cover off Verstappen, and he’s the champion. So Perez has helped out a lot, Verstappen did not return the favour.
“I think there’s no excuse for doing what he did. He’s obviously not happy with his team-mate, but this is still a team-mate that has helped him out in the past and is really desperate for that second place in the Championship.
“Red Bull have never had a one-two in the Drivers’ Championship, they really want it, Checo really wants it and he has helped this team-mate out plenty of times in the past. In fact, the race after Monaco, he jumped out of the lead for Max then as well.
“And for Verstappen, giving up a sixth for a seventh position is nothing to him, it would have been absolutely no cost to Max.
“You never know, he will never know when the next chance he’ll need a team-mate to support him will be, maybe it will be next year? Mercedes are looking quicker, can Ferrari get a better car? Will he need Checo on-side again? I think it was very small-minded from Verstappen to hold on, even if he felt aggrieved from before.”