Max Verstappen opens up on potential team orders to help Sergio Perez in Brazil

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen overtakes Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez during the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen overtakes Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez during the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Having declined to help Sergio Perez out in last year’s race at Interlagos, will Max Verstappen support his teammate more this weekend?

Sergio Perez’s bid to finish second in last year’s World Championship saw him request the aid of Max Verstappen during the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Verstappen infamously refusing to hold back from attacking his teammate and finishing ahead in sixth and Perez in seventh.

It led to quite a bit of fallout as it created tensions in the Red Bull camp, with an official reason for Verstappen’s unwillingness to help never being revealed – although the working theory that emerged and wasn’t adamantly denied, was that Verstappen was furious about Perez’s crash in Q3 in Monaco possibly being intentional in a bid to ruin other drivers’ flying laps.

Will Max Verstappen be more willing to help Sergio Perez this season?

Heading into the same race in 2023, a similar situation has emerged – Verstappen is World Champion and doesn’t need any further good results, while Perez is occupying second place with Lewis Hamilton breathing down his neck from 20 points further back.

Speaking in the press conference at Interlagos ahead of the weekend, Verstappen was asked whether he’d be more willing to move aside or help Perez out this year if the circumstances allow for it.

“Good question,” he said.

“I think, at the end of the day, I think that it shouldn’t always matter for me, you know, to get the points.

“But I’m confident in Checo [Perez] that he can stay ahead because I do think that, on average, we have the faster car.

“I think also, last year, it wasn’t really well spoken about before we got into the race weekend.

“But yeah, let’s just hope that we don’t get into that situation – I think it’s better for everyone.”

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As for how the reigning World Champion feels coming into this race weekend, a race that didn’t play out very well for Red Bull in 2022 as Mercedes’ George Russell took the win ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen admitted to feeling a little bit of apprehension coming into the Brazilian weekend.

“Last year, we didn’t have a great race weekend here,” he said.

“Now, with the sprint format, it makes it quite difficult to be on top of things.

“We had a few ideas why last year was not that great. But yeah, we have one practice session to make sure that it’s better this year. I think there’s a lot of high-deg here and the way you have to set up the car for a lot of low-speed corners, I don’t think our car is particularly, let’s say, amazing in the low-speed corners, so I guess we’ll find out.”

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