Red Bull warned of Verstappen accusations as Perez joins championship battle

15 points separate Max Verstappen in first and team-mate Sergio Perez in third in the world championship.

1996 Formula 1 champion Damon Hill has highlighted the dangers of a team having two drivers who can compete for the world championship.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel had an awkward relationship at Red Bull between 2010 and 2013 as they both found themselves in contention for the title, along with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Sir Lewis Hamilton.

They came together at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix while battling for the lead, before Webber was denied would have been his 10th and final win in Formula 1 when Vettel famously ignored the “multi-21” order from the team.

Both Verstappen and Perez have been on the top step in the opening seven rounds of the year, and the Mexican has out-qualified the reigning champion twice.

Perez’s victory in Monaco last time out leaves him just 15 points behind his team-mate at the top, but the relationship between them has appeared nothing but amicable so far.

READ: Wolff insists Mercedes isn’t trying to ‘screw’ smaller F1 teams

However, with the 32-year-old now tied down until the end of 2024, the shackles will be loosened further, so Hill warns Red Bull that animosity could start to creep in if their drivers end up embroiled in a title fight.

“They have just signed up Sergio for another two years. He’s not going anywhere is he for a bit,” he said.

“I think that Red Bull can be quite a confusing team when they have two guys who can be in contention.

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“They somehow leave one side feeling left out and the other side feeling favoured and you’ll get this friction we’ve had in the past with Seb and Mark Webber, so watch this space.

“Max is their ace card and everyone has seen it that way but he has quite often said things which have been harsh and quite critical of the team to the extent where he is accusing them of ruining his championship.

“Rather than saying ‘it’s a problem we’ve got and I’m sure we’ll fix it because we’re a team, we’re all one and we’ll fight and lose as one’, that hasn’t come out of his mouth yet, I don’t think.”

The former Williams and Jordan driver divulges that a team with two competitive drivers ends up with a dilemma as to how to approach a situation, and how much they should interfere with the drivers’ squabbling.

“It’s a big issue with any team if they are in contention for the world championship,” explained Hill.

READ: Red Bull gaining upper hand over Ferrari after ‘wobbles’, Verstappen outbursts

“Ordinarily, most teams are fighting to get to the front, but when they get to the front and they’ve got a chance with two world drivers winning the world championship, then they’ve got a problem.

“Whether as a team you should tactically favour the one driver with the most points…if you were doing it from a purely strategic, mathematical point of view, you’d say give the most points to the driver who [already] has the most points. 

“That driver will then extend his lead over your rivals, but you can’t do that too soon because people think that’s unfair. 

“Are you better to let it unfold and see who comes out past halfway with the most points or do you start favouring before you get there?”

While Verstappen holds a nine-points title advantage over Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Red Bull also lead the Scuderia by 36 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

Carlos Sainz is the only driver within that quartet who is yet to win a race this season, or in his entire F1 career for that matter.