F1 pundit blasts Sergio Perez over ‘very unnecessary’ Max Verstappen incident

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez discuss an incident. Austria, July 2023.

Red Bull team-mates Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez discuss an incident. Austria, July 2023.

Sergio Perez said he did not see Max Verstappen in a moment which saw Verstappen pushed onto the grass in the Austria sprint, but Naomi Schiff is not having any of that excuse.

Verstappen started the Austria sprint from pole with Perez alongside him to form an all-Red Bull front row, but it was Perez with the better start of the pair, allowing him to take the lead from Verstappen at Turn 1.

It was what happened down the straight out of that opening corner though which upset Verstappen, who was briefly forced to dip a wheel onto the grass as Perez moved across.

Sergio Perez said he did not see Max Verstappen

When explaining what went down after the race, Perez and Verstappen having had a lengthy talk in parc ferme before media duties, Perez would claim he had not seen Verstappen looking to move alongside him.

And once he had seen that his team-mate was trying to squeeze through, he said he then opened the door into Turn 3.

Verstappen reclaimed the lead at Turn 4 and then raced on to win by a margin of 21 seconds at the end of the 24-lap sprint.

“I think Max was angry that I went into Turn 2 [sic], but I didn’t see him there,” said Perez. “I had a really bad Turn 1, so I tried to protect.

“Once I realised he was there, I opened up the door and gave the place back into Turn 2.”

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Former W Series racer turned Sky F1 pundit Schiff had major doubts though over the validity of Perez’s version of events.

Pointing out that Red Bull had it potentially all to lose in that situation as Formula 1’s dominant force, she was far from convinced by Perez’s claim that he did not initially see Verstappen attempting to squeeze alongside.

Furthermore, she also questioned why Perez would have been taking that line down the straight if he did not know Verstappen was there.

“To be honest, I understand blocking, I understand trying to protect your position, but team-mate against team-mate, when there’s all to lose for those two, I think it was very unnecessary,” Schiff claimed.

“And I think he was saying that he didn’t see him? I don’t really buy that. Because you can see he moves over, and then as Max is there, he seems to move over a little bit more.

“He wouldn’t be on that part of the track to begin with if he didn’t know Max was there, so I don’t buy the fact that he didn’t see him.”

Perez would later lose P2 to Haas’s Nico Hulkenberg as Verstappen left his team-mate out to dry when re-taking the lead, but Perez ultimately recovered to that runner-up spot as his deficit to Verstappen at the top of the Drivers’ Championship grows to 70 points.

Read next – Sprint: Max Verstappen heads Sergio Perez in frantic wet-dry Austrian Grand Prix dash