Sergio Perez fumed at Max Verstappen’s refusal to follow team orders to let him overtake at the finish at Interlagos, saying it’s proof of “who he really is”.
Perez is currently locked in a battle for second place in the Drivers’ Championship with Charles Leclerc, and the Mexican had called on the team to allow him past Verstappen while he was running with damage in Saturday’s sprint, with Perez looking for every possible point to make it a Red Bull one-two in the Drivers’ standings.
Perez was ahead of Verstappen in the closing stages during Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, but on medium tyres with Verstappen running on faster soft tyres behind.
The Mexican was then instructed to allow his team-mate past to try and take points away from other drivers in front of him, but as he was unable to get past Fernando Alonso ahead, Verstappen was then told to let Perez back past before the finish line – but the World Champion refused.
His blunt response over the radio then came when asked why he did not move over: “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.”
But Perez, clearly angry after how things unfolded, quipped that Verstappen’s refusal to follow orders was a reflection on his character.
The team radio exchange from Perez’s point of view went as follows:
Hugh Bird (race engineer): “Max will let you through.”
Perez: “Yeah, thank you for that guys. Thank you”
Christian Horner: “I’m sorry about that, Checo.”
Bird: “We’ll debrief everything afterwards.”
Perez: “It shows who he really is.”
After tense discussions behind closed doors, Red Bull team principal Horner confirmed on Sky F1 that the drivers have now “shaken hands” and has assured that Verstappen will support Perez in his aim to gain second place in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
But clearly irked by his team-mate’s behaviour, Perez was wanting an explanation as to what happened after the chequered flag dropped, adding that he had “no idea” what Verstappen was referring to when he said the team knew what his reasons were for not giving the place back.
“I was told to let him by when I was going to get back the position, I don’t know what were the communications with him on his side,” Perez told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
“No idea. No idea,” he added of Verstappen’s reasoning for disobeying the order. “Maybe you should ask him about it. But yeah, nothing to say really.
“I mean, after all I’ve done for him, it’s a bit disappointing, to be honest.”
Perez and Leclerc will now go to Abu Dhabi level on 290 points apiece in their battle for second place, with Leclerc also having been refused in his request to be allowed past Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz in the closing stages.