Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer has said Max Verstappen’s call to not let teammate Sergio Perez pass him in the closing stages of the Brazilian GP despite team orders was an “odd decision.”
Verstappen refused to let Perez pass him for 6th place despite being ordered to do so by the team with the Mexican in a tight battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second in the drivers’ championship.
The disagreement spiralled after the race, with Perez saying that Verstappen’s decision “shows who he really is”, while the world champion said he has his own reasons for not letting his teammate pass.
Reports have since emerged that Verstappen may have been referring to Perez’s crash during qualifying for the Monaco GP, which ended the session and ensured that the Dutchman started behind his teammate on the grid.
Red Bull have said that the incident has been discussed with internally, but Verstappen’s decision has sparked widespread debate about the pair’s relationship as the team’s drivers.
Palmer, writing for F1.com, said that while during the Brazilian GP Ferrari had also not changed their drivers, the disagreement between the Red Bull pair and Verstappen’s defiance of team orders was more difficult to comprehend.
“For Max Verstappen…the situation was different and is harder to understand,” Palmer said.
“Unlike Ferrari, Red Bull did ask Max to give way to Checo, and they actually repeated that request over and over again as they realised it was going to be ignored. Also unlike Ferrari, Red Bull weren’t in such a great position – sixth and seventh on a Sunday is peanuts for this year’s drivers’ and constructors’ champions, yet for Perez the extra two points would have been worth a great deal.”
Palmer added that given the switch would have had no downside for Verstappen, given he has also wrapped up the 2022 drivers’ championship, it was odd that he had opted not to help his teammate.
“Verstappen nonetheless ignored the orders and proceeded to take his third worst finish of the season. For a man who has won more races in 2022 than any driver in history over a single campaign, and has the championship sewn up, this seemed like an odd decision,” he said.
“The Dutchman has maintained that he “has his reasons” for not complying with the team, but surely as a driver you have to choose your battles and decide when it’s better to swallow your pride and think of the bigger picture.”