Imagine this, Max Verstappen is leading from teammate Sergio Perez going into the closing stages of the 2022 Mexican Grand Prix. They have a comfortable lead over the rest of the field and are about to record their sixth 1-2 of the year.
Given Perez is on home soil, with over 150,000 screaming Mexican fans wanting to see their man, not just on the podium, but on the top step, should Verstappen give Perez the win?
It’s happened before, when a championship has been sealed, albeit not for a long time in Formula 1.
What does Perez think?
Perez became the first Mexican driver to stand on the podium in his home country in 2021 when he finished third, behind Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
It would be a special moment, no matter how it happens, if Perez won this Sunday but he doesn’t want any gifts.
“I don’t need to be given anything,” said Perez.
“I have achieved everything without any gifts for so many years, not that it is necessary.
“In the end I don’t think about it, I think about my work, about being perfect this weekend and looking for that victory [in Mexico]. I think that in the end it’s normal, we all want to win.
“If there is a situation where Max could support me, I think he will, without a doubt, but the important thing is to continue this streak, close the season strong and it would be ideal as second in the world championship.”
“It’s not about giving presents,” Verstappen told Sky Sports. “As long as we finish first and second, the team is happy.
“Checo is good enough to win races on his own and it’s way more rewarding to do it that way.
“We will see this weekend where we are and having your home Grand Prix is an amazing feeling and I’m sure he will do well.
Repaying the favour for Abu Dhabi 2021
Prior to the huge controversy surrounding Michael Masi‘s decision to restart the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP by letting some, but not all, lapped cars through which put Verstappen on Hamilton‘s tail, Perez had a heroic two laps.
On older tyres, he acted as a moving road block which cost Hamilton eight seconds to Verstappen.
That lost time for Hamilton meant the Mercedes driver could not pit and keep the lead when the late-race safety car, caused by Nicholas Latifi, came out.
There is also the Turkish GP where Perez fought valiantly to keep Hamilton behind, positioning his car in the perfect place in treacherous conditions.
Fast forward to now and Perez is in a battle for second place in the drivers’ championship, trailing Charles Leclerc by just two points with three events remaining.
With the drivers’ and constructors’ titles wrapped up, perhaps Verstappen will help Perez in his bid to finish as runner-up.
Senna and Schumacher give away wins
At the 1991 Japanese GP, which was the penultimate event of the season, Ayrton Senna was about to win in Suzuka but he let teammate Gerhard Berger through on the last lap to give him his first victory for McLaren.
Earlier in the race, Berger had let Senna by after the Brazilian’s title rival Nigel Mansell spun off which handed the championship to Senna.
At Indianapolis, Michael Schumacher returned Rubens Barrichello a favour after the infamous call at the 2002 Austrian GP which saw the latter move aside out of the final for his teammate.
Fast forward to the penultimate Grand Prix of that year in the United States and Schumacher let Barrichello win by 0.011 seconds which remains the closest finish in F1 since the introduction of timing to the nearest thousandth of a second.
“The end of the race was not planned,” said Schumacher.
“We tried to cross the line together but failed by a tiny bit and in fact we did not know who had won until we got out of the cars. I just felt Rubens deserved to win this race.”
Barrichello added: “To win, it was very, very, very good. I got to the last corner, I didn’t know what to do and nothing has been said.
“Michael was just very kind to let us finish equally. I guess I pointed a little bit in front, but, you know, what can we say?”
Can Perez win on merit?
Perez‘s car was fitted with a brand-new internal combustion engine last time out in Austin, which was perhaps a tactical move from Red Bull to give him the best chance of winning in Mexico.
To boost Perez‘s chances further, maybe they will give Verstappen a fresh engine which would trigger a grid penalty.
Verstappen is particularly strong at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, taking dominant wins in 2017, 2018 and 2021.
Perez will need to be ahead of his teammate after Lap 1 to stand a chance of winning on pure pace.
Anything else would require a mistake, some bad luck or help from Verstappen to give Perez a special victory.