Sergio Perez sends Red Bull warning over Max Verstappen treatment

·2-min read

Sergio Perez has fired a warning to Red Bull and insists he won’t help Max Verstappen on track if he doesn’t receive any “support when I need it.”

Mexican star Perez has received plaudits for being a team player at Red Bull and has helped double world champion Verstappen in various races, most memorably defending from Lewis Hamilton at the controversial season finale of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.

Yet at the penultimate race of last season in Brazil, with Verstappen’s second title long secured and Perez vying for second place in the Championship, the Dutchman defied orders from the pit wall and refused to let Perez pass him.

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Verstappen insisted afterwards he “had his reasons” for ignoring team orders - rumoured to be linked to Perez crashing in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix, a race the Mexican went onto win - but has refused to elaborate any further.

Both Christian Horner and the two drivers have since dismissed the notion of any further friction but Perez, speaking to Fox Sports Mexico, admits he is still surprised that Verstappen did not let him pass at Interlagos and warned his employers about future situations ahead of the 2023 season.

“It’s important to always work as a team and obviously if I see that I don’t receive support when I need it I won’t give it either,” Perez said.

“That’s obvious, but I don’t expect any of that. I [was] very surprised [about Verstappen’s refusal to abide by the order]. I don’t know what happened, especially with everything I’ve done for [Verstappen], I don’t think I understand his reasons.

“If he has two championships, it is thanks to me. It is going to be a very intense season, with six cars possibly fighting for the championship, so it’s going to be very important to work as a team in many races.”

Sergio Perez has fired a warning to Red Bull after Max Verstappen refused to help him last year in Brazil (Getty Images)
Sergio Perez has fired a warning to Red Bull after Max Verstappen refused to help him last year in Brazil (Getty Images)

Perez ended up finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The 33-year-old last year signed a new deal until the end of the 2024 season but nonetheless believes this season is a “crucial year” in his career as he targets adding to his tally of four grand prix victories.

“Without a doubt this year will determine many things, how good I am, how much I want to continue in the sport, without a doubt it is a crucial year in my career,” he added.

“If you don’t have 100% desire to get up, to train every day, to take care of what you eat all year, everything you have to give to the sport, if you don’t have that energy at 100 percent, I don’t see myself being here at 90%.”

The 2023 campaign will be Perez’s 13th straight season in Formula 1 and begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix this Sunday - lights out is at 3pm (GMT).