Max Verstappen refused to answer whether he’d move aside to help Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix, with the Mexican still locked in a battle with Mercedes‘ Lewis Hamilton for second-place in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
Verstappen controversially refused to help Perez in a similar situation 12 months ago at Interlagos, then exploded into an expletive-driven rant against the press when questioned about why he didn’t move aside for sixth place.
Ultimately it wouldn’t have impacted the final championship, but Verstappen dodged committing to an answer when asked if he’d act differently in 2023.
“Good question, I think at the end of the day, I think that it shouldn’t always matter on me to get the points,” Verstappen told the media. “But I’m confident in Checo that he can stay ahead because I do think that we have the faster car on average.
“And I think also last year, it wasn’t really well spoken about before we got into the race weekend. But yeah, let’s just hope that we don’t get into that. That situation I think it’s better for everyone.”
Perez trails Verstappen by a whopping 251 points in the 2023 drivers’ standings – having only amassed 240 points himself – and saw his lead over Hamilton slashed in half at a catastrophic 2023 Mexico City GP.
Perez has just a 20-point cushion over Hamilton arriving at Interlagos – a track where the Mercedes driver has won three of the last six races and expects to be strong again this year.
Red Bull have never secured a one-two in the drivers’ championship, a fact which wouldn’t had changed even if Verstappen hadn’t denied Perez two points at Interlagos in 2022 – he finished the season an agonising three behind Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen hopes to avoid 2022 bull***t
Verstappen was certainly rattled by the backlash over the 2022 Brazilian GP, and is understandably keen to avoid a similar storm this time around.
Rumours quickly surfaced that it was payback for Perez admitting he deliberately crashed in qualifying for the 2022 Monaco GP to ensure he started third on the grid and ahead of Verstappen.
The Dutchman reacted by accusing the media of fabricating that story – but still failed to provide an alternative explanation of his actions 12 months after Perez had played a crucial role in Verstappen‘s maiden F1 drivers’ championship win.
“I’m just a bit fed up with all this bulls**t,” Verstappen told the media ahead of the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP.
“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.”