Jolyon Palmer feels the dynamic at Red Bull, with Max Verstappen telling the team what strategy to put Sergio Perez on, is “slightly bizarre”.
The Dutchman claimed victory at the United States Grand Prix after prevailing in a titanic battle with title rival Lewis Hamilton that ended with the two just over a second apart.
The two drivers were on differently-timed strategies, with Verstappen making each of his two pit-stops before Hamilton and the Briton staying out longer to ensure he had fresher tyres in the closing stages.
After making his first stop, the Red Bull driver got on the team radio and told his team to bring in team-mate Perez to force the Mercedes driver to pit sooner himself in order to ensure the Mexican did not pull off the undercut.
Palmer said this is unheard of and feels the dynamic at the team is somewhat strange.
“A driver trying to dictate the strategy of his team-mate is pretty much unheard of during the race, but Red Bull duly brought Perez in and Hamilton was forced to cover him,” Palmer said in his column for the official F1 site.
“We know Red Bull are sacrificing Perez from time to time, purely to aim for the drivers’ title. Even as early as Silverstone they pitted Perez out of the points, just so he could get the fastest lap and stop Hamilton picking up the extra point.
“It’s a slightly bizarre dynamic when the lead driver starts to suggest it as well though over the team radio, but it just shows how single-minded Verstappen is right now. He’s acting like a driver who has been here before and has the experience to read the race and make the right calls, even in these high-pressure scenarios.
“The entire team, including his team-mate, are all pulling in the same direction. That was also clear by the way Perez offered no fight to Verstappen on the opening lap after Turn 1.”
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) October 24, 2021
After winning at a track where many expected Hamilton and Mercedes to prevail, Verstappen now has a 12-point lead in the standings over the seven-time World Champion with five rounds to go.
There is little doubt in Palmer’s mind Verstappen is the favourite now, but the Briton expects more twists before the season is over.
“Verstappen was downbeat after Turkey, thinking Mercedes might be picking up momentum. In one fell swoop he has turned it on its head,” he said.
“He has a 12-point lead – the most either driver has had since Silverstone – and the next race is Mexico, which has usually been an Achilles heel for Mercedes, and on top of all of that Hamilton has the probability of another engine penalty hanging over him.
“With a perfect drive, Verstappen has just cemented himself as favourite once more, and if he were to go on and win the title this year, a race like Austin might be looked back on as a champion’s drive.
“Even with the momentum though, there is no let-up. With the championship as it has been this year, I’m sure there will be even more twists and turns before Abu Dhabi.”
Is Red Bull's team-mate dynamic weird?
Jolyon Palmer feels the team-mate dynamic at Red Bull is bizarre.