Red Bull has issued a bizarre statement claiming the reason Max Verstappen didn’t swap positions with teammate Sergio Perez at the end of Monday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was because he was only asked to do so exiting the final corner.
In the statement, the team admitted they “made some mistakes” in Brazil, and they ”had not envisaged the situation that unfolded on the last lap”.
The team also described Verstappen as “an open and fair team player”, and that he had only been told to give the place back as he exited the final corner.
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“Regretfully, Max was only informed at the final corner of the request to give up position without all the necessary information being relayed,” the statement read.
“This put Max, who has always been an open and fair team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react which was not our intention.”
But that statement is apparently at odds with what actually happened.
The team radio from Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase instructing the two-time world champion to let Perez by was broadcast on the world feed as race winner George Russell approached the finish line.
The team radios are usually broadcast on a not insignificant delay, indicating that message had likely been transmitted much earlier in the lap, giving Verstappen plenty of time to react.
When Verstappen crossed the line having not given the place back, Lambiase asked what had happened. He was met with a snarky response.
“I told you already last time. Don’t ask that again to me. Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it,” Verstappen said.
Behind him, Perez received an apology from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, to which he replied it “showed who he really was”.
In the same statement, they said the drivers had both since aired their grievances, and the issue was now resolved.
Meanwhile, Verstappen said he was unfairly vilified in media reports and he and his family faced social media abuse after the Brazil race.
“It’s pretty sickening, to be honest, being part of all that while, at the end of the day, I haven’t even done anything wrong. It’s just people misunderstood what was actually going on,” he said.
Red Bull condemned the messages and revealed they had also been sent to other team personnel.
“Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable,” the statement added.
“We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work in and enjoy our sport. The abuse needs to stop.”
Verstappen has since vowed to help his teammate in his battle to secure second in the championship ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“As a team we have never finished first and second. So if we could achieve that, that would be amazing,” Verstappen said.
“For sure, if the opportunity is there to help, as a team, you know, we’re going to do that.”
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