Red Bull say they accept the reasons Max Verstappen gave for not following team orders at last weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, calling him an “open and fair team player”.
Verstappen was allowed to move ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in sixth place in the final laps of the race, but the team relayed orders for the World Champion to allow the Mexican back past at the finish, with Perez chasing second place in the Drivers’ Championship coming into the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Perez was left furious after being denied the extra points, having allowed Verstappen past in the first place, but the Dutchman was affronted at the request to let his Red Bull team-mate by again.
Verstappen’s radio message came quickly: “I told you already last time, guys. Don’t ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons, and I stand by it.”
Perez retorted that the move showed “who he really is”, but since posted on social media that the incident is now behind them.
Red Bull themselves have now released a statement admitting they made errors in the way they handled the situation, but condemned the abuse on social media that has come their way in the aftermath of the drama surrounding their drivers last weekend.
“As a team we made some mistakes in Brazil,” Red Bull said. “We had not envisaged the situation that unfolded on the last lap and we had not agreed a strategy for such a scenario before the race.
“Regretfully, Max was only informed at the final corner of the request to give up position without all the necessary information being relayed.
“This put Max, who has always been an open and fair team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react which was not our intention.
“Following the race Max spoke openly and honestly, allowing for both drivers to resolve any outstanding issues or concerns.
“The Team accept Max’s reasoning, the conversation was a personal matter which will remain private between the team and no further comment will be made.
“The events that followed from a social media point of view are completely unacceptable. The abusive online behaviour towards Max, Checo, the Team and their respective families is shocking and saddening and unfortunately is something that we as a sport are having to address with depressing regularity.
“There is no place for it in racing or society as a whole and we need to do and be better. At the end of the day this is a sport, we are here to race.
“Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable. We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work in and enjoy our sport. The abuse needs to stop.”