Red Bull racer Sergio Perez has come under more pressure after his feisty opening battle with team-mate Max Verstappen in the Austrian Grand Prix sprint.
Perez and Verstappen came close on several occasions to a major incident during the opening few corners, both forced to take avoiding actions as they battled for the sprint lead.
Thankfully for Red Bull, the squabble for track position faded as Verstappen stamped his usual authority over the session and Perez came home a distant second.
Sergio Perez accused of poor ‘teamwork’ with Max Verstappen
However, the opening exchanges has only led to more questions about Perez’s future with the Red Bull team on yet another race weekend where he has failed to reach Q3.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, was not particularly impressed with Perez’s role in the embryonic stages of the sprint and, it appears, the fact that Red Bull were still able to secure a 1-2 was a saving grace for Perez receiving more criticism.
“Perez had the better start, but at that moment everything was still fine,” Helmut Marko is quoted as having told ORF following the sprint race.
“But what comes next, pushing someone else onto the grass, especially in wet conditions – it was not exactly good teamwork.
“Everything after the first corner was unnecessary,” Marko added. “It was to be expected that Max would then be aggressive in the third corner.
“But I’ll have to take a closer look and talk to Checo. I’ll listen to what his position is. But in the end everything worked out anyway because Max drove away in front.”
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Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen clear the air
Upon winning the sprint, Verstappen said on team radio that there would need to be talks between the two drivers and the team as their battle at the Red Bull Ring was “not okay” in his opinion.
But the two drivers ended up talking pretty much as soon as they leapt out of their Red Bull cars to clear the air and wipe the slate clean ahead of Sunday’s race.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner, during his assessment of events, was eager to ensure that the media did not blow things out of proportion with a cool, calm response.
He told Sky Sports F1: “As they said they’ve spoken about it.
“I think Checo had Max maybe unsighted there on the right-hand side, so thankfully they didn’t collect each other and a one-two finish is a great result for the team.”
The chances of a repeat in Sunday’s race are very slim to none with Max Verstappen starting on pole position and Sergio Perez all the way down in P15 after his latest qualifying horror show on Friday.