Jenson Button has said that Max Verstappen’s decision not to let teammate Sergio Perez pass him in the closing stages of the Brazilian GP has not done any favours for the Dutchman’s reputation.
Verstappen refused team orders to let Perez, who is still fighting with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second in the drivers’ championship, pass him for 6th with the Mexican struggling on older medium tyres in the final laps of the race.
Despite Red Bull engineers asking several times, Verstappen refused and said that he had his reasons for the decision, and as a result Perez goes into the final race of the season at the Abu Dhabi GP level with Leclerc on 290 points.
It has since emerged that Verstappen’s decision may be due to the circumstances of Perez’s crash in Monaco which halted the session and secured the Mexican a grid spot ahead of his teammate.
Verstappen faces criticism
The Dutchman has been criticised for the call and has since said he will do whatever he can to help Perez secure second in Abu Dhabi, but Button told Sky Sports’ Any Driven Monday that in refusing to let his teammate pass with no potential downside for Verstappen or the team had hurt his reputation.
“Max could have come out of this so well, the world champion letting his team-mate past so he can fight for second in the championship,” Button said.
“You’ve got to ask Red Bull, if they have discussed this beforehand as Max said then why are they asking him to do it in the race?
“It’s a real shame because like I say it could have been a perfect end to the race. The mistake in the early part of the race with Lewis was an incident we didn’t want to see, but to come out and say ‘here you go Checo (Perez), here’s a couple of points and now you’re second in the championship, we’re going to finish first and second (overall)’, it’s awesome.
“But that story is not the story we have.”
Button added that Verstappen came across as “selfish” in the radio exchanges, with Perez saying that the champion’s decision “shows who he really is.”
“It doesn’t come across well, and when you hear his comments saying ‘no I’m not letting him past, I’ve got my reasons’, if we don’t hear the reasons we think Max is being selfish, he’s not thinking about the team or his team-mate,” added Button.
“Maybe that’s his reason for not wanting to give the place up to Checo because it hurt his qualifying in Monaco and maybe he thought Checo found the wall easier than he should have.”