Christian Horner message indicates Max Verstappen bias

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen have both claimed two victories this season, with the pair being separated now by just six points.

Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz was left intrigued after Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, following a radio message from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to Max Verstappen.

After crossing the line in second behind team-mate Sergio Perez, Horner told Verstappen that the Mexican “got lucky”, after inheriting the race lead following a Safety Car.

Verstappen was leading the race until he was told to box by Red Bull, whilst yellow flags were being waved in the opening sector following an issue for Nyck de Vries.

It wasn’t until the Dutchman left the pits that a Safety Car was summoned, meaning Perez was able to pit at the end of that lap and lose less time.

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Perez ultimately moved into the lead as a result, whilst Verstappen fell from first to third.

Perez ended up controlling the race beautifully, as he claimed his second win of the season, reducing the gap to Verstappen in the standings to just six points.

Even Perez’s post-race radio message was interesting to breakdown, with Kravitz believing that without admitting it, Red Bull do indeed have a preference over who they want to win the title.

Kravitz told Sky Sports F1: “I thought the Perez radio message was interesting, when he said: ‘Look, guys, we are still in the fight’.

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“It sounded like Perez was talking to his engineer and mechanics only, and not the rest of the team.

“He was saying: ‘We are still in the fight, we can’t have issues like we did in Melbourne and we can still get this championship. But then you’ve got Horner on the pit wall, with what sounded like reassuring radio messages to Max, saying: ‘Never mind, Checo got lucky with the Safety Car, but it’s a long, long season’.

“That, to my ears and to anyone reasonable, sounds like Horner saying to Max: ‘Look, don’t worry, you’re still our man for the championship’. Checo is thinking: ‘Hang on, I’ll fight tooth and nail to be the man to fight for the championship’.”

Kravitz was also left baffled by Red Bull’s decision to pit Verstappen when they did, given that had they left it a lap later, the 25-year-old would’ve likely won his third race of the season.

“I’m going to call it the odd call,” Kravitz said. “They could have, if there was a button on the de-rig, say ‘stay out! Stay out!’

“They didn’t know. It was a very close thing. I reckon they probably would have had less than 10 seconds to tell Max to stay out.

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“The decision time would have been six seconds, something like that. Then, they can’t guarantee that Verstappen wouldn’t be like ‘woah I’m already in the pitlane!’

“But, had that happened, Verstappen would have won this grand prix. Perez had the pace today. That’s the crucial thing. Max and Sergio were so tightly matched today.

“Even when Perez went out, Max couldn’t catch him. So arguably – had he stayed out and they didn’t stack – maybe Perez would have passed him in the pits.”