Antonio Perez has calmed down on his criticism of Max Verstappen, adamant there are “no bad intentions” between the Red Bull team-mates and that Sergio Perez isn’t going anywhere.
Although it has always seemed as if the relationship between Verstappen and his latest Red Bull team-mate, Perez, was a good one, cracks showed at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix when the Dutchman refused to yield P6 despite Red Bull telling him to move over.
Verstappen said at the time he’d already told the team not to ask that of him, and had explained why, later confirming to the media it had to do with something that happened in the past. What, he wouldn’t say.
Perez was frustrated with his team-mate, saying it showed “who he really is”, although days later he apologised for that and he, along with the rest of the Red Bull team, insisted everything was fine again.
His father Antonio wasn’t so forgiving at the time, telling esto.com that Verstappen was feeling threatened by Perez and could “feel Checo’s breath in his helmet.”
However, he too has now calmed down.
With pundits suggesting Daniel Ricciardo’s soon-to-be-confirmed return to Red Bull could be bad news for Perez, Antonio told the Mexican publication: “Checo will be at Red Bull for the next two years and everything that happened is a matter for the team-mates.
“They both want to succeed, they want to win, there are no bad intentions.”
This past season was Perez’s most successful in Formula 1, the 32-year-old securing two race wins, Monaco and Singapore, 12 podiums in total and finishing third in the Drivers’ standings.
His missed out on P2 by three points, running out of laps with his two-stop strategy to catch and pass Charles Leclerc at the Abu Dhabi finale.
Antonio reckons that hurt Red Bull as much as it did Perez.
Adamant the team gave Perez “all the support” in the season finale, he added: “It hurts us a lot that he did not finish in second place, but for Red Bull it was everything in the campaign.
“They had the Drivers’ World Championship, the Constructors’ World Championship and wanted 1-2 in Drivers’ which would have been historic.
“For the team, it also hurt them a lot not to have achieved 1-2.”
Papa Perez, though, is now over podiums, he wants race wins and the ultimate prize, the World title, for his son.
“We have a podium and we no longer enjoy it,” he said. “Now we don’t want a third place, we want pure first places, so I think the best of Checo Perez is coming and we must enjoy it.
“Now the ball is on his side, he has to prepare, work, concentrate to be the best. Today he is number three in the world, his next step is to be number one.
“He has to try to win all the races, all the pole positions and try to be in front of all the competitions.”
He added: “It’s a competition for both of them, not just for one, Checo has already earned his place and is ready to work, the most important thing for both of them is to work as a team, the most important thing for Red Bull is victories.”