Max Verstappen has lashed out in the media for stories written about him after the Brazilian Grand Prix, branding the social media abuse he and his family suffered in the aftermath as “disgusting”.
Verstappen, who won the 2022 title in October, disobeyed a team order from Red Bull to let Sergio Perez pass on the last lap, which would have helped the Mexican driver for second place in the championship.
Verstappen later explained that he refused because of an incident earlier in the season, although no further details were given.
Red Bull issued a statement on Thursday, just before Verstappen faced the press, stating that his own mistakes had sparked a team order controversy and failed to properly communicate with the Dutchman until the last lap.
The two-time world champion is angered by the criticism he has received.
“After this race, I looked very bad in the media,” said Verstappen in a press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. “But they didn’t have a clear picture.
“Putting me down like that straight away is frankly ridiculous because they don’t know how I work in a team and what the team appreciates about me.”
Speaking about the talks with Red Bull and Perez after the race, he said: “We had some good talks, we put everything on the table and everything was resolved. In hindsight, we should have had that conversation sooner because I’ve never been a bad teammate. I’ve always been very helpful. The team knows that – I’ve always pushed the team forward because at the end of the day it’s a team effort.”
The refusal to follow team order was due to Verstappen’s belief that Perez had deliberately crashed in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in May to ensure he started up front.
The Dutch press has reported that Perez admitted this a few weeks later. In his own press conference on Thursday, Perez categorically denied both claims.
Perez and Red Bull have both said that Monaco was absent from the meeting after the Brazil race.
On Thursday, Verstappen was given multiple opportunities to explain the incident he was referring to, but declined.
“We keep it between the team and me,” said Verstappen. “[The media] You don’t know the real story, so you don’t need to write the story.
“I’m just a little fed up with all these cops – I just walk around all the time. As soon as there is something negative, it needs to be highlighted. It’s pretty disgusting to be a part of all this to be honest. At the end of the day I didn’t do anything wrong, people just misunderstood what was going on.”
Verstappen suggested media coverage of the event fueled abuse against him and his family over the past week.
He added: “It’s just incredibly disappointing that without knowing the full facts, people write so many bad things right away.
“I don’t know why that is, but at the end of the day you’re contributing to the problems that social media is having by writing these things. The team knows how I work with it and I’ve always been good to the team.”
The issue of social media abuse is becoming a growing concern for Formula 1. FIA President Mohammed ben Sulayem recently warned that online abuse could destroy F1 if left unchecked.
Red Bull’s statement on Thursday had also condemned the Verstappens’ insults.
“Everything I’ve read is pretty disgusting,” said Verstappen. “They started attacking my family, they threatened my sister, my mother, my girlfriend and my father.
“And for me that’s going way too far if you don’t know what’s actually going on, and for me this definitely needs to stop. If you have a problem with me, that’s fine, but don’t go after my family because that’s just not acceptable.
“I just don’t understand when people don’t have the whole picture to attack me like that. I hope one day they really understand what’s going on because it’s just unacceptable behavior. In this paddock too, to be honest. Not only fans, but a lot of people, what they write about me is ridiculous.”
When asked if he could rule out what people are writing on social media, the reigning champion said: “Well if your own sister texts you saying it’s getting too much and you need to do something about it, that says mine enough in my opinion. And yes, it’s getting on my nerves because you can’t attack my family.”
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the final race of the 2022 F1 season. Verstappen has had a record year, winning 14 races.
https://www.espn.com/f1/story/_/id/35045633/max-verstappen-hits-sickening-criticism-abuse Max Verstappen hits out at ‘sickening’ criticism and abuse