Horner defends Red Bull team orders after Perez claims he was deceived

Max Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday after Sergio Perez was asked to let him by.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has affirmed that Sergio Perez understood why he was asked to let team-mate Max Verstappen through in Spain after he had seen the full picture of how the race played out.

Perez was twice asked to allow Verstappen to pass him at the Spanish Grand Prix, the first of which came when the Dutchman went off the track at Turn Four due to a gust of wind, before a three-stop strategy meant that the 24-year-old was significantly quicker towards the end.

As a result, Perez, who was leading having passed George Russell before Verstappen’s stop also put him in front, was told not to fight his team-mate if and when he closed on him.

READ: Max Verstappen pleased to win after ‘not nice’ incident

The Mexican replied by saying “that’s very unfair, but okay,” but he eventually did allow the reigning champion to pass.

After the race, he remarked that he was “happy” for the team’s one-two success, but insisted that he wanted to “speak later” about the circumstances of the result.

Once the emotions had settled, however, Horner revealed that Perez was able to figure out why he was asked to relinquish the lead.

“I spoke with him when he got out of the car,” he told RacingNews365.com.

“The problem for any driver is that they don’t have a clear overview of the strategy or a race plot in front of them.

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“It’s always going to be emotive to give up a lead, but he played very much the team game.

“I think he understood clearly it wasn’t a like-for-like fight, because the pace delta between the strategies was so great.”

Mercedes suffered from cooling issues towards the end of the race, to the extent that Sir Lewis Hamilton was forced to slow down and let Carlos Sainz get back ahead of him, and slight concerns about overheating was also the reason Horner did not want to let his drivers go at it for the win.

“With temperatures, water temperatures, oil temperatures, a DRS that was intermittently working [on Verstappen’s car], it didn’t make any sense to let them fight, because it was an unfair fight,” explained the 48-year-old.

“As it turned out, we had to pit Checo for [new tyres to make it to] the end of the race.

“Both drivers worked together as a team, and to get the maximum points was hugely important on a day that, unfortunately, Ferrari had an issue.”

READ: Carlos Sainz reveals damage after Spanish GP spin

Red Bull now lead the Constructors’ Championship after a miserable day for Ferrari as another costly error from Carlos Sainz preceded a reliability failure for Charles Leclerc.

The result of the latter is that, for the first time this season, Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Standings.