Ex-F1 racer Karun Chandhok believes Max Verstappen made a “short-sighted decision” by not helping Sergio Perez in Brazil.
With a late Safety Car period not doing Perez any favours, the Mexican racer struggling at the restart on medium tyres, Red Bull told Perez to let his team-mate Verstappen through.
The thinking was that he could attack firstly Fernando Alonso and then Charles Leclerc ahead and take vital points off the Ferrari driver, who is Perez’s rival for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, Verstappen being the runaway World Champion.
The stipulation though was that if Verstappen could not pass Alonso, he had to return the place to Perez. He failed to pass Alonso and did not give Perez that P6 back.
Perez was understandably angry, saying after all the times he has played the team game for Verstappen’s benefit, the Dutchman in this instance had shown his true colours, Verstappen meanwhile telling Red Bull they know his reasons for ignoring the request.
And so Chandhok feels Verstappen had failed to see the long-term picture with his decision.
“Honestly, I don’t understand it because he’s won the World Championship. I think it’s a little bit short-sighted as well because you know he might need Checo’s help next year in the World Championship battle,” Chandhok told Sky Sports F1.
“He needed him last year in Abu Dhabi, he needed him at other times this year, so for me that’s a little bit of a short-sighted decision.
“I go back to someone like Ayrton Senna. He gave up a win in Japan in 1991 to his team-mate because he knew he wanted that loyalty, he wanted [Gerhard] Berger on-side. And I think that’s a slightly short-sighted move there.”
Chandhok’s fellow racing driver and pundit Naomi Schiff said it takes a “certain selfishness” to be the clear leading driver in a team, which Verstappen is at Red Bull, although she feels something unknown to the public has happened between the drivers.
“I wonder if it’s just a little bit of tit for tat,” Schiff stated. “I think it takes a certain selfishness to be a dominant driver in a team.
“Not that that always will work in your favour, but clearly something’s happened in there that we can either guess about, or you can just say we don’t know exactly what it is, but maybe Max is just setting the record straight for ‘if you cross me, I won’t help you’.”
Chandhok agreed with Schiff’s assessment, explaining this looked to be a case of Verstappen delivering a reminder of how he sees himself in the Red Bull team.
“I think today I go back to what Naomi just said, I think that was a racing driver thinking about himself and putting a stake in the ground of ‘I am the number one driver in this team’,” Chandhok stated.
“At that moment, as the driver in the cockpit, he’s not thinking about all of these other factors here, so this was very much about him establishing himself as the number one driver in that team.”
Perez now goes into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points with Leclerc, needing to outscore him in order to claim P2 in the standings.