Sergio Perez told Red Bull “I’m happy for the team, but we need to speak later” regarding the team orders that saw him forced to surrender first place during the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Mexican had been the lead car on the road after team-mate Max Verstappen pitted for a new set of medium tyres, with Perez’s RB18 carrying tyres which were seven laps older.
Verstappen closed up behind his Red Bull colleague within a handful of laps, but Perez was told in no uncertain terms to not make life difficult for the reigning World Champion, who took the lead of the Drivers’ standings after winning in Barcelona on Sunday.
Perez responded to the order by saying “that’s very unfair, but okay” in playing the team game, given that the order to move aside came under the guise of the two Red Bull drivers being on different tyre strategies.
Verstappen subsequently thanked his team-mate for him moving aside, calling him a “great team-mate” to have.
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Perez eventually came home as the second car in a Red Bull one-two in Barcelona. When combined with Ferrari’s misfortune that saw Charles Leclerc retire, this result also saw Red Bull open up a 26-point lead at the top of the Constructors’ Championship.
While Perez stayed relatively tight-lipped after the chequered flag, there will surely be tougher conversations to be had at Red Bull later.
“Yes, I think it was close,” he said when it was put to him by Pedro de la Rosa that he could have won on Sunday. “But at any rate, same result, and I’m happy for that.
“We were on different tyre strategies at the time. I let mine expire in the beginning, then I thought at the time that I could go by and not lose crucial seconds, you know, to make my strategy work. But anyway, it’s a good team result.”
Perez took the bonus point for recording the fastest lap of the race in Spain, and sits third in the Drivers’ Championship after the sixth round of the season – 25 points behind Verstappen at the top.