Red Bull’s unbreakable nature appears to have very much cracked, following the unbelievable scenes at the Brazilian Grand Prix where Max Verstappen openly defied instructions from his team.
The Austrians sheer dominance this season has largely been momentarily forgotten about following a new side of Verstappen having been on display at Interlagos, where the Dutchman left millions of fans in pure disbelief.
Verstappen endured one of his messier races last weekend, where a collision with none other than Lewis Hamilton resulted in the double World Champion dropping to the foot of the field.
Whilst he did manage to fight his way through to sixth, he was once again helped on his way by team-mate Sergio Pérez, who he stabbed in the back in cryptic fashion.
Due to being on slower rubber, Pérez allowed Verstappen past in the closing laps, to see if the 25-year-old could overtake either Fernando Alonso or Charles Leclerc ahead.
The understanding was, though, that if he failed to do so then he’d need to return the position to his team-mate.
Incredibly, Verstappen defied further instructions from the team to give the place up after he failed to overtake either driver in front.
He crossed the line ahead of the Pérez, before being asked “what happened Max?”.
His response was harrowing, with the Dutchman insisting that he has his “reasons” and that the side should “never” request him to give up a position again.
This ‘reason’ is believed to be in reference to the Monaco Grand Prix earlier in the year, where Pérez supposedly crashed on purpose in qualifying to stop Verstappen claiming pole.
Pérez was apologised to by Red Bull boss Christian Horner; however, the Mexican was quick to add his own thoughts that Verstappen had “shown who he really is”.
The situation has left Pérez in a right pickle, given that he now goes into Abu Dhabi level on points with Leclerc, who he’s battling for P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Had Verstappen given the place back as instructed, Pérez would’ve taken a two-point lead into the finale, which is now a winner-takes-all scenario.
Some have compared Verstappen’s blatant disrespect to his team and Pérez to Sebastian Vettel’s ‘Multi21’ incident at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
In Malaysia, Vettel was told to remain in second behind team-mate Mark Webber; however, the German defied team orders and overtook the Aussie, claiming victory in the process.
F1 presenter Will Buxton doesn’t think the two situations are “the same”, but that ultimately Verstappen has “much to learn”.
“Comparisons between Max’s refusal of team orders yesterday and Vettel with Multi21 aren’t, to my mind, the same,” Buxton wrote on social media.
“Seb was going for a win, early in a season for which he was aiming for a fourth consecutive title. Max was running for sixth, title sewn up.
“If, and it’s big if, this relates to Monaco, the team should have dealt with this by now. It should have been discussed and resolved. Verstappen should be long past it. And given how the season played out his sole focus should be on the team game.
“Red Bull has never had a 1-2 in the drivers championship. That’s now their stated aim. His refusal to help them in that desire yesterday showed petulance and a sad and selfish short-sighted spitefulness. He’s not the complete racer yet. Nor the talisman they need. Much to learn.”