After hurting teammate Sergio Perez‘s championship chances at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen came out swinging ahead of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, accusing the media of false reporting as he’s been heavily criticised by both journalists and fans.
With Verstappen having already wrapped up the 2022 drivers’ title, Perez is battling Leclerc for second place which would confirm Red Bull‘s first ever 1-2 and enters the weekend level on points with his rival but sitting third.
The Red Bulls were running sixth and seventh at Interlagos led by Verstappen so the team asked the pair to switch and move Perez ahead of Leclerc on points, but Verstappen refused and said he’d already explained his reasoning to Red Bull.
“I’m just a bit fed up with all this bullshit,” Verstappen told the press ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“You don’t even have the facts, you don’t know the real story so you don’t need to write a story. After that race of course I looked very bad in the media, but they didn’t have the clear picture.
“It’s pretty sickening, at the end of the day, I haven’t even done anything wrong it’s just people misunderstood what was actually going on.”
It’s been reported that Perez deliberately crashed in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix when he was in provisional third, and he went on to win that race.
But no one at the time thought it was deliberate – even with Monaco’s historical precedent – and with him sitting third on the grid at a track where pole position is key, it also wasn’t an ideal starting position anyway.
Despite taking aim at the media for not knowing the full facts about his reasons for not helping Perez, Verstappen has repeatedly refused to specify why he made the decision beyond saying it’s related to an incident earlier in the season.
Ultimate team player?
Verstappen’s been used to being the number 1 driver for most of his F1 career, both at Toro Rosso and Red Bull.
He outperformed Carlos Sainz in his debut year aged just 17 and stepped up to Red Bull in record time, where Daniel Ricciardo sometimes felt the Dutchman was given preferential treatment as the team’s prodigy.
Ricciardo left the team at the end of 2018 and since then Verstappen’s been the undisputed Red Bull team leader.
After Toro Rosso graduates Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon failed to make the grade as his teammate, Perez was brought in to provide a better foil to Verstappen and played a key role in him winning the 2021 World Championship.
Perez has consistently harmed his own chances for the good of the team and Verstappen, so the Dutchman was heavily criticised when he failed the only time he’s been asked to return the favour, for a minor position.
But Verstappen‘s not taken that criticism well.
“I have never been a bad teammate to anyone,” Verstappen added, “I’ve always been very helpful and the team knows that, I always put the team upfront because at the end of the day, it is a team effort.”
“Honestly, I have a great relationship with Checo, I know how I am, the team knows how I work with them. And I’ve always been good to the team.”