Reigning champion fired warning: ‘Perez made Verstappen champion’

Max Verstappen ignored team orders in Brazil, not allowing Sergio Perez to pass for crucial championship points on the final lap.

Tension in the Red Bull camp is at an all time high, despite the outfit winning both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships this year.

In the latter stages of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen passed his teammate Sergio Perez to mount an attack on Fernando Alonso ahead, with the Mexican driver under the impression that should his teammate fail to overtake the Alpine, he will be given the position back.

This is exactly what was meant to unfold, as Verstappen was told to give Perez sixth place back after failing to overtake Alonso on the last lap of the race, but he refused, stating quite bluntly that the team know his reasons.

Perez has played the ultimate team game for Verstappen over the past two seasons, so the Dutchman’s unwillingness to repay the favour came as a surprise to the 32-year-old, who said “it shows who he really it.”

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Former F1 driver Timo Glock has suggested that the incident could fracture the team spirit within the Red Bull camp, with Perez having every reason to stop playing the wingman role for Verstappen.

“Of course it’s not conducive to a team spirit next year,” he said after the race.

“I can imagine Perez considering whether he will still support Verstappen. A year ago, Perez made Verstappen world champion – now he could have helped his teammate in return.

“That’s why I don’t understand why Max reacted like that. Something bigger must have happened.”

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It has been suggested that a once harmonious driver pairing could become similar to the Lewis Hamilton – Nico Rosberg Mercedes line-up that was so famously toxic.

Ralf Schumacher has weighed in on the argument, claiming that Verstappen has naively passed up the perfect opportunity to repay Perez for all this help in his title challenges, with the race meaning nothing to the 25-year-old.

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“He [Perez] proved in his first year at Red Bull how much he can fight for the team,” he said.

“I would have thought it would be payback time today. I see it as selfish street fighter mentality. Max is obviously very successful, but things like that can cost you support inside the team.”

It is rumoured that Verstappen’s reasons for his refusal date back to Monaco this year, when Perez allegedly caused a red flag on purpose during Q3 to cement his pole position, putting Verstappen in P4 on the grid.