Max Verstappen might come to regret how he treated Sergio Pérez on the final lap of the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, after the Mexican spent the last two seasons supporting Verstappen’s fight to become a double World Champion.
Pérez has become well known at Red Bull for being the ‘perfect’ team-mate, somebody who’s prepared to sacrifice their own race for the good of the team.
This season alone, Pérez allowed Verstappen to overtake him twice following a request from the Austrians, at both the Spanish and Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Had it not been for Red Bull telling Pérez to let the Dutchman past, then Checo might have won both races, something which overall might have had a huge impact on the 2022 Drivers’ Championship.
However, the most notable occasion of Pérez helping Verstappen was the 2021 season finale, where the Mexican put on what was arguably the greatest defensive display ever seen in modern F1.
Red Bull sacrificed Pérez’s race in Abu Dhabi and requested him to hold up Lewis Hamilton, who had pitted for fresh rubber.
Pérez’s defensive masterclass was so good, that Verstappen closed from 10 seconds behind Hamilton to just one second behind in just a lap and a half.
Checo taking the fight to Charles Leclerc this season has also benefited Verstappen, especially at venues like Singapore when the Dutchman struggled.
Pérez won in Singapore whilst Leclerc claimed second, meaning the 32-year-old stopped the Monegasque from claiming a further seven points on Verstappen.
Red Bull can’t have any complaints about Checo; however, that isn’t what Verstappen seemingly believes.
On Sunday, Verstappen was allowed to overtake Pérez in the closing laps of the race to see if he could overtake Fernando Alonso and Leclerc; however, the 25-year-old was told that if he can’t get past either, then he’ll need to give his team-mate the place back.
Verstappen was reminded on the final lap to give the place back, but alas, the Dutchman ignored all instructions from his side.
It was a complete sign of disrespect to both the team and Pérez from Verstappen, who insisted that he has his “reasons” for not letting his team-mate take the place back.
By disobeying team orders, Pérez lost out on two additional points, which would’ve seen him take a two-point advantage over Leclerc going into Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull have never claimed a one-two in the Drivers’ Championship, if they fail to do so now in 2022, then only one person can be blamed.
Pérez revealed his disappointment in his team-mate after the race, who he believes “showed who he really is”.
Given that the Mexican is unlikely to be as willing to help Verstappen going into 2023, some, including WTF1 presenter Matt Gallagher have shared their interest in a possible Pérez “villain era”, with the driver likely to prioritise himself more going forward than being the ‘perfect’ team-mate.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Sergio Perez’s villain era from today,” wrote Gallagher.