Max Verstappen certainly didn’t gain any new fans at the Brazilian Grand Prix, after completely disobeying team orders on the final lap of the race at Interlagos, much to the displeasure of the team and Sergio Pérez.
The race followed the usual trend for Brazilian GP’s, absolutely brilliant, with action having taken place from the first lap to the last lap; however, it then spilled over into the cooldown lap after the chequered flag was flown.
Verstappen quickly eliminated himself from a potential podium early on in the race, after colliding with Lewis Hamilton at the second corner, which resulted in the Dutchman being awarded a five-second time penalty.
The penalty and a front-wing change dropped the 25-year-old to the foot of the field, before he rapidly rose back into the points positions.
At the front, Pérez was controlling second place in solid fashion, before a considerably faster Hamilton made his way past.
The Mexican was left as a sitting duck, though, in the closing stages of the race, following a Safety Car to recover a stricken Lando Norris.
Pérez found himself as virtually the only driver on the Medium compound, whereas everyone around him was on superior Soft tyres.
As a result, Pérez tumbled down the order and even behind his team-mate, after being told to let his team-mate past.
Verstappen was told to hunt down and overtake Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc in the final few laps; however, he failed to pass either driver.
The number 33 was told that he would have to give the place back to Pérez if he didn’t overtake either driver, but staggeringly he clearly disobeyed the orders of the team.
Pérez is, of course, battling for second in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst Verstappen has nothing to play for.
Given the incredible role Pérez played at helping Verstappen at the 2021 season finale, it was a shock to all to see Verstappen go against his team so openly.
Pérez was furious with his team-mate after he crossed the line and said to his team that the Dutch driver “showed who he really is”.
“Ok, so Max will let you through,” Pérez was told on the final lap.
“Thank you for that mate, thank you,” the Mexican said after Verstappen failed to give the place back.
“I’m sorry about that Checo,” Christian Horner said.
“We’ll debrief everything afterwards,” Pérez’s engineer added.
“Yeah, he showed who he really is,” slammed the understandably furious driver.
Horner has the monumental task now of steadying the Red Bull ship and removing any tension, especially as the side have had such a positive season.
Verstappen’s lack of respect for his team’s request does demonstrate somewhat who is in charge at the side, with the Austrians in the difficult decision now of siding with their star driver or their experienced team player.
When asked why he didn’t allow Pérez past, Verstappen said to his race engineer “don’t ask me again”.
Ex-F1 driver turned pundit Martin Brundle questioned if Verstappen’s disobedience was as a result of Pérez reportedly admitting to crashing in Monaco on purpose, to stop the Dutchman claiming pole.