As Formula 1 approaches the final round of the 2022 season, all the talk has been about Max Verstappen’s disobedience at the Brazilian Grand Prix, after he defied team orders.
The Dutchman endured a messy race, to say the least, after colliding with Lewis Hamilton on Lap Seven.
As a result, the 25-year-old had to fight his way through from the foot of the field, something he successfully achieved.
However, in the closing stages of the race at Interlagos he was allowed to overtake Sergio Pérez for P6, under the impression that if he failed to pass either Fernando Alonso or Charles Leclerc, then he’d need to return the place.
Verstappen failed to do either of these things, which resulted in him being asked “what happened” when he crossed the line.
“I told you already last time,” he said ferociously to race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.
“You guys don’t ask that again to me, okay?
“Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons, and I stand by it.”
After the race, Verstappen told the media that he won’t say what his “reasons” are, but that the team “understood”.
“I gave my reasons,” he told Sky Sports afterwards.
“I’m not going to say why, but I think they understood, and I already explained it to them before, so it’s not new to me and it’s not new to them.”
Verstappen’s defiance could cost Pérez second in the Drivers’ Championship, with the Mexican now level on points with Leclerc.
He was understandably furious with his team-mate after the race, whom he’s helped several times during their partnership.
“It shows who he really is,” Perez said on his cool-down lap.
“After all I’ve done for him, it’s a bit disappointing to be honest,” he added to Sky Sports after the race.
Red Bull have ensured that the issue has been dealt with behind closed doors rather than in front of the media, with Verstappen supposedly convinced that Pérez crashed on purpose in Q3 at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The incident on Sunday has been compared to another Red Bull incident in 2013, where Sebastian Vettel defied team orders and overtook team-mate Mark Webber for the win.
Webber was furious after the race and initially had the backing of boss Christian Horner; however, Webber revealed in his autobiography that the team principal performed a “180-degree turn” after the race.
“Marko was surrounded by the German/Austrian media and blaming me,” he wrote in his book.
“On hearing what Marko had said, Christian seemed to perform a 180-degree turn and ended up siding with Marko.
“Later, when I saw on TV the hugs Sebastian got on the pit wall from the team, I began having serious doubts as to who was really pulling the strings at Red Bull Racing.”
Webber eventually retired from the sport at the end of 2013, with some now questioning if the incident in Brazil will spell the end shortly of Pérez’s time at Red Bull, with the Austrians seemingly unwilling to turn against their star driver.
Webber, in his book, explained that Horner insisted that both drivers were equal, something which was never the case in 2013 and arguably isn’t the case in 2022.
The Aussie saw this lack of honesty as a “sign of weakness” in Horner, something Pérez may perhaps begin to see himself.
“Christian insisted on keeping up the pretence that everything was even-handed,” he wrote.
“All we wanted was to be told the truth but he couldn’t do that, and for me that was a sign of weakness. It was at this stage that I began losing respect for him.”