Max Verstappen has awkward moment with Sergio Perez after ignoring team orders

Max Verstappen remains in the lead of the championship by a single point, after claiming the fastest lap on the final lap of the Saudi Arabian GP

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen put on an excellent display at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as the Dutchman successfully salvaged a podium at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, despite having started 15th.

Verstappen was forced to start from 15th after being eliminated in Q2, following an unexpected driveshaft failure.

Prior to his mechanical failure in qualifying, the 25-year-old was the clear favourite for pole, after he topped all three practice sessions.

Given how quick he’d been all weekend, Verstappen was expected to still be a threat for the victory; however, he failed to really challenge for the win due to team-mate Sergio Pérez having dominated the race from pole.

READ: Max Verstappen opens up on risk of missing 2023 Saudi Arabian GP

Verstappen worked his way through the field in rapid fashion, with the Dutchman having elevated himself into second as the race surpassed the halfway point.

When it became apparent that Verstappen wasn’t going to win, the double world champion began to ask his team what the fastest lap was, in order to claim an additional point.

Interestingly, it was Pérez who held the fastest lap as the race moved towards its climax, with the Mexican having been looking on-track to move into the championship lead.

Seemingly aware of this, Verstappen identified that he wanted the fastest lap, to keep himself in the lead.

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With five laps remaining and any hope of victory gone, Verstappen asked his race engineer: “What’s the fastest lap?”

“We are not concerned with that at the moment Max,” Verstappen’s race engineer abruptly replied.

“I am,” responded Verstappen.

With the team having seemingly been against him setting the fastest lap, Verstappen took it upon himself to set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, something which resulted in an awkward conversation after the race.

“Did you get the fastest lap, in the end?” Pérez asked Verstappen in the cool down room.

“On the last lap, yeah,” replied Verstappen whilst nodding.

Pérez had also asked his race engineer over the radio what the fastest lap was, only to be given the same response that Verstappen received.

It means that Verstappen leads the championship by a single point heading into the Australian Grand Prix.

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“It wasn’t very easy to get through the field, through the first sector. Very happy to be on the podium,” Verstappen said after the race. 

“I was in second, we had a big gap behind so at one point we decided to call it a day and settle for second, which anyway was a very good recovery.

“I gave it a go at the end so luckily it worked out,” added the Dutch driver, referring to the fastest lap.