Sergio Perez fires back as Max Verstappen tensions boil over

Max Verstappen has expressed his displeasure amid a battle with his teammate Sergio Perez.

Sergio Perez defended himself, stating that he was unaware of Max Verstappen’s presence alongside him when he forced his teammate onto the grass at the start of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix sprint race.

The Red Bull pair engaged in a fierce battle for the lead on the opening lap of the race. 

While Verstappen emerged in front, he made it clear over the radio that he was unhappy about being forced onto the grass by Perez.

Perez executed a better start from second on the grid compared to Verstappen, who started from pole position. 

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In an attempt to keep Perez behind, Verstappen moved towards the right-hand side of the track.

However, Perez had the inside line for turn one and took the lead.

Nevertheless, Verstappen had a stronger exit from the corner and attempted to draw alongside Perez as they climbed the hill. 

In response, Perez swiftly moved to the right, pushing Verstappen onto the grass.

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Verstappen described the incident as “a little bit of a hairy moment out of turn one” and blamed his teammate for forcing him off the track. 

He acknowledged the slippery conditions on the grass but managed to maintain control of his car and continued the race.

Perez acknowledged that Verstappen was angry about the incident but claimed that he hadn’t seen his teammate during the manoeuvre. He attributed his actions to a poor turn one and his attempt to protect his lead.

Despite the incident, Perez led the field to turn three, where Verstappen made a daring move from a considerable distance behind, diving down the inside. Verstappen ran wide on the exit, causing Perez to run further wide onto the run-off area.

The battle between the teammates persisted into the next corner, with Perez launching an attack on Verstappen from the outside. 

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Once again, Verstappen took a wider line, and although he refrained from pushing Perez into the gravel trap, it allowed Nico Hulkenberg to seize the opportunity and split the two Red Bulls.

Perez clarified that he willingly let Verstappen move ahead of him after their incident at turn one. 

He explained, “Once I realised that he was there, I opened up the door and gave the place back into turn two. But it’s all fine; we just spoke about it because the visibility, although we were one and two, it was very bad out there.”