This post is from one of our contributors, WimboFormula1 from YouTube, As a context of the timing, this column was written shortly after the Brazillian GP in 2022.
After an eventful Brazilian grand prix there is one thing that keeps everyone in the F1 community busy and that’s the refusal of Verstappen to let his teammate Perez by to stay ahead of Leclerc in the standings. This action looked as a nasty selfish act from the outside and was quickly condemned by fans and critics alike. Then Tom Coronel ( Dutch rally driver) said in the aftershow on Viaplay Verstappen ignoring a team order had everything to do with an incident earlier this season. Perez crashed his car during the Monaco qualifying after setting a competative time. This angered Verstappen as he couldn’t improve his time anymore. According to Coronel ( close friends with Jos Verstappen) Perez had admitted to Horner and Marco that it was deliberate after being questioned about the data. Now, what was discussed after the qualification is not clear. One thing was clear, a score needed to be settled.
Verstappen has made it clear from his first season in F1 that he’s not there to accept team orders. In a very difficult Malaysian grand prix Verstappen was asked to let Sainz by when they both drove for Toro Rosso. Verstappen answered in a resounding :”NO!”. As he felt he worked so hard to get to that position. He felt he deserved that position on principle. Verstappen is very much a man of principle and discipline. Letting someone by and sulk after is often an easier option then not doing it and face the conflict that follows. Max is not afraid of confrontation as he’s proved time and again.
Ofcourse it’s easier to say, Perez held Hamilton up in the season finale and he deserves the help of his teammate. However, how long does one have to credit someone for a favour? One only has to look at the fortune that Perez had to be in that seat in the first place. Contract paid off by Lawrence Stroll and career almost finished. Then look at how often Perez wasn’t there to take points off Hamilton, or to be part of the strategy to help Verstappen. Nobody held that against him. Perez is very popular amongst Red Bull fans, and there was an understanding of how much Perez driving style was different then the high rake concept of Adrian Neweys designs. Chestappen was a good duo that seemingly got on alright. It was most likely one of the reasons why he was able to sign a very juicy two year deal with Red Bull. So what brought him to do what he did in Monaco is beyond me. Was he under the impression that he could go for the title and did he see Verstappen as the first opponent? In any case, things didn’t work out as planned. Revenge is a dish best served cold was probably Verstappens motto, as Perez finished 4 seconds behind his teammate that was told to give back the position. His reaction over the radio and in the first interviews showed how disappointed he was.
I’ve been reading loads of comments on twitter and read articles from some very good f1 pages and most of them question why Max felt the need to get back at a teammate who was already subservient. My explanation is one for long term.
As a dominant driver boundaries need to be set from time to time. To the team he drives for. As you could hear over the radio Verstappen had already gave his reasons why he would not do what he was told. The team chancing it was pretty silly as they should know how headstrong and stubborn he is. I doubt they will ever ask him again to do something he said he wouldn’t do.
Then with the career he still has ahead of him, there’s a big chance there will be other teammates. Other drivers that will go head to head with him in equal machinery. I think it sends a very powerful message that even if you think you won a battle it’s not over yet. That if you’re on his list you will get a reaction at some point. One needs to be very confident to try and have one over on Verstappen.
In the same race Verstappen and Hamilton came together again. An incident where Verstappen was predominantly to blame for according to the stewards. Yet, this contact also sent out a message to his rivals. It screamed that if you’re in a title battle with Verstappen and you need every single point, you need to be aware of what he’s capable off. I can only imagine how much it goes against your instinct taking a turn knowing there will be contact. Not backing out is a brave move no matter how much criticism you get for it, or how much the incident might hurt. An opponent that knows this will automatically give more space and that’s a result. Hamilton the old sly fox, has the same willpower and doesn’t shy that contact either. If Max and Lewis would play a game of chicken they would most likely hit each other full frontal without either of them backing off. We are blessed to have two of those gladiators on track and we can only hope they will entertain us more next season.
So in conclusion the general idea might be that Verstappen ruined a good relationship, I think he showed in a way that leaves no doubt to not mess around with him. The aura he gives off in these situations is very much like Schumacher who was in control of everything around him. It didn’t make either of them well liked, but both have in common that they are not there to be popular, or to push products. They want to win and race. Their attitude helps them in the dynamics of the team and the grid. I’m sure there will be some mending done and it wouldn’t surprise me if Verstappen did his good deed towards Perez next race in Abu Dhabi. It will taste all the sweeter coming after everything that’s been said and done after Brazil.
And I’ll be there to enjoy it all in front of my TV. Let the drama enfold!