Max Verstappen ‘may face consequences’ for blindsiding Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen has been tipped to pay the price for pinching an extra championship point by sneakily setting the fastest lap time at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Sky Sports F1 expert Bernie Collins believes that Sergio Perez could give him a taste of his own medicine as the season unfolds, which could play a role in who bags the title.
Teamwork has proven to be a valuable resource between Perez and Verstappen in years gone by. The Mexican famously held up Lewis Hamilton in the 2021 season finale, allowing his team-mate to snatch the win and ultimately the Drivers’ Championship.
Tensions seem to have emerged in the Red Bull camp over the past 12 months, however, with Verstappen seemingly not prepared to return the favour. Fans first started scratching their heads in Brazil last season when the Dutchman, who had already won his second title, refused to let Perez pass him on the final lap as he hunted down valuable championship points.
Notions of friction have already cropped up this year, too, despite the pair clinching successive one-twos to kick off the season.
Perez held a comfortable lead in Saudi Arabia last time out and was cruising towards a 26-point haul for the day, with the fastest-lap point in his back pocket. Unbeknownst to him, however, Verstappen went all out on the final lap to take the bonus point and retain his spot at the top of the standings.
The Mexican could hardly contain his surprise on the team radio, having been given no indication that the 25-year-old was preparing to push. Collins, who previously headed up Aston Martin’s race strategy, believes that Verstappen could face consequences in the long term by backing Perez to pull off sly moves of his own.
“Personally, I think there may be even more suspicion among both drivers going forward,” she wrote for the official F1 website. “In future races, we could expect the fastest lap attempts from both in the closing lap. In those stakes for Saudi, though, it’s Verstappen 1, Perez 0.”
Former world champion Damon Hill believes that Perez needs that kind of ruthless streak to challenge Verstappen for this year’s title. “Maybe he has stepped up a notch,” he told the F1 Nation podcast. “I had ruthlessness when I needed it. It’s that commitment to yourself and not taking things lying down when things happen in the team.
“Standing up for yourself and saying ‘no, I am not going to get pushed around’. Sometimes the attention is not equally distributed from one side of the garage to the other.
“There is so much investment in Max as an individual, who is going to be the way this team fights for championships for many years, that naturally you think the attention is going to go to Max. But Checo has stepped up to the plate and shown that he is not going to be pushed around or pointed out as the weakest link.”
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