Newly crowned champion Max Verstappen turned down a team order from Red Bull at the Brazilian Grand Prix to support teammate Sergio Perez in his battle for second place in the title race.
Perez dropped the order after a late safety car restart, with nearest championship rival Charles Leclerc being one of the cars to get through.
Verstappen soon caught and passed Perez, with Red Bull encouraging him to take points away from Fernando Alonso in fifth and Leclerc in fourth.
There seemed to be an understanding that Verstappen would leave Perez behind if he could not catch either driver, but although Verstappen still finished sixth he did not leave Perez behind.
At the finish, Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase asked him: “Max, what happened?”
Verstappen replied over the radio: “I told you last time. Don’t ask me that again – are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by them.”
Speaking on his own radio channel, Perez said: “Thanks for that guys. Thanks.”
Team boss Christian Horner then spoke up: “I’m sorry, Checo…”
To which Perez replied: “It shows who he really is.”
Verstappen’s decision cost Perez two points, meaning he lost a total of six points to Leclerc. The pair are now level on points with one round remaining in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Perez followed a team order to let Verstappen through to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, which he referred to after the event in Brazil.
“After everything I’ve done for him, it’s a bit disappointing to be honest,” Perez said. “I have no idea. I’m really surprised.”
Verstappen and his manager Raymond Vermeulen were seen chatting with Horner and Lambiase after the race.
The two-time world champion did not elaborate on what was discussed but said he had valid reasons for rejecting the team.
“I have my reasons for that,” said Verstappen. “We were just discussing this, and I think it was better that we finally sat down and talked about it and just moved on from here.
“If we go to Abu Dhabi and he needs the points because they’re a tie, that’s not the end of the world, it’s just a matter of who comes out on top anyway. If he needs help, I’ll be there.”
“But it’s good that we’ve talked about it now and sorted out basically everything that was there, why I didn’t do it.”
The incident will leave Red Bull in an awkward position between keeping their superstar driver happy and dealing with the fallout with Perez, who signed a two-year contract extension after winning the Monaco Grand Prix this year.
https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/35020203/ask-again-clear-max-verstappen-refuses-red-bull-order-help-sergio-perez ‘Don’t ask that again to me — are we clear about that?’ Max Verstappen refuses Red Bull order to help Sergio Perez