Red Bull’s Sergio Perez said team-mate Max Verstappen showed “who he really is” after the two-time Formula One world champion refused to give up a place in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday.
The radio commentary came after the Mexican allowed Verstappen to overtake on the grounds that the position would return if the Dutch driver could not overtake Fernando Alonso in the Alps for fifth place.
Perez needs every point to overtake Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc into second with Verstappen already clinching the title. Red Bull has never finished second in the drivers’ standings.
Perez and Leclerc are now tied on 290 points, with Leclerc leading 3-2 in winning the race. Ferrari didn’t help Monaco either, allowing Carlos Sainz to finish in front of him.
Verstappen, who was penalized for colliding with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, was told by his engineer Gianpiero Lambiasi to let Perez pass at the end but he ignored it and finished sixth, Perez finished seventh.
“Max, what happened?” Lambiasi asked.
Verstappen replied: “I already told you last time, you guys don’t order it again, okay?”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner apologized to Perez, saying, “I’m sorry for that, Chico.”
“It shows who he really is,” replied the Mexican, who has been praised by Verstappen in the past for playing a supporting role.
Perez later extended his suspension to Sky Sports TV: “I was asked to let him pass, that I would take back the position,” he said.
“Maybe you should ask him about it… After all I’ve done for him, it’s a bit disappointing to be honest. I’m really surprised.”
Television commentators speculated that the last time Verstappen was signaling might have been Monaco, where Perez fell late in qualifying but finished third with his teammate fourth.
Pérez won that race with Verstappen third after a “double-stack” pit stop.
Speaking to reporters later, Verstappen said it was “something that happened in the past” – he refused to confirm it was Monaco – and that he understood why Perez was upset.
He said the matter was discussed and he explained his actions.
“We have to move forward. We go to (the last race) in Abu Dhabi, they are level on points and if he needs help there to finish before Charles then I will help him.”
Horner did not give details of the team’s talks but said Abu Dhabi’s focus was on ensuring Perez finished second overall.
“They are level on points and whatever we can do as a team…we will do to help Checo (Perez) achieve this goal,” he said.
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