It was a greasy surface when Formula 1 first went to Portimao in 2020, with rain coupling alongside the new tarmac making for difficult driving conditions at the time before the pair touched.
Verstappen did blame his now-team-mate at the time for the first-lap incident, saying to reporters previously: “It was very low grip. I just tried to stay out of trouble. Of course, I had a little touch with Sergio but he didn’t give me enough space so he basically took himself out. From there onwards, it was raining a little bit so [I was] just trying to keep the car on the track.”
But time, experience and reflection has allowed Verstappen the chance to change perspective and offer an apology to his fellow race-winner.
“I had to say sorry,” the Dutchman said on Sky Sports F1. “I mean, it was chaos that first lap, even afterwards, like the whole lap to be honest was a bit tricky out there.”
“It’s good. We can laugh about it, we’ve done both of us so many races.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) May 4, 2021
Verstappen has gained the early upper hand in the season as Perez gets used to his new surroundings, but the Red Bull newbie believes the pair will be free to battle on track if they are fighting for the same position at the front.
“I think we can race,” Perez said. “But it’s important to think of the team. It’s important to bring those points, as many points as possible.”
“I’ve been very impressed with the team. They just constantly search for performance in every single detail. I think that’s very important and that shows why they’ve been so successful.”
With the poor fortunes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon against Verstappen in the other side of the garage, Perez also took time to explain what the talented Dutchman has been like as a team-mate so far.
“I am positively surprised by Max’s attitude,” he explained.
“Of course, I already knew him a bit as we have been racing against each other for many years. But when you ride together for one team, you spend more time together and you get to know each other better.
“His image is very different from how he really is as a person. He is very approachable and of course he wants to be fast and of course he is very competitive, but I have not seen anything you hear in the media. I am very impressed with Max in that respect.”