Damon Hill: Sulking Verstappen family won’t take Saudi Arabian GP defeat lying down

Max Verstappen was beaten to victory in Jeddah by Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez

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Damon Hill has suggested that the whole Verstappen family will come out swinging after Sergio Perez beat Max Verstappen in the 2023 Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Verstappen had to come from 15th on the grid in Jeddah, as a result of a mechanical failure in qualifying, and could only get to within five seconds of his teammate after a well-timed safety car.

Hill, the 1996 F1 champion, thinks Perez‘s experience will aid him in the fight with his Red Bull teammate compared to other drivers who came before him.

“We’ve seen young guys go there and find themselves without friends and they can be intimidated, and they’ve had to go elsewhere, like [Pierre] Gasly and [Alex] Albon,” Hill told Motorsport.com Australia.

“You could even say Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo have experienced that. It’s a tough environment, Red Bull. They don’t put their arm around you and go, ‘we’ll look after you, don’t worry’. Checo has got people in his corner and we’ll see how it plays out.

“Whatever happens, the Verstappens won’t be taking it lying down. You saw after Saudi Arabia that Max was… I would say sulking is not too strong a word. He looked very unhappy about the way things went. They don’t like coming second.”

Cards to play

As a fan of the sport, Hill is keen to see the teammates go head to head with the gloves fully off to spice up what could be a hugely dominant season of F1.

But he believes that there could be some cards played by Verstappen and his family that will see Red Bull look to side with him over his Mexican teammate despite just one point separating them after two races.

“From the point of view of the sport, I think that they need to let Checo have every opportunity to fight with a level playing field within that team,” Hill added. “Because I know the pressure from the Verstappens, his dad as well, on Red Bull will be intense.

“He’ll be pulling out the card of saying, ‘I’m your future. The whole opportunity is built around me’ and he’ll be leveraging them.”

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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