Formula 1 driver Sergio Pérez had some scathing remarks for teammate Max Verstappen after the Sao Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday. Max Verstappen is the current, 2022 F1 World Champion, and fellow Red Bull driver to Pérez, but Verstappen refused to let Pérez pass during the final lap of the race for unknown reasons. By doing so, Verstappen didn’t just refuse to help his teammate at little cost to himself, but also refused an order from his team, according to Road and Track.
Even though Verstappen has now clinched a consecutive title as the F1 World Champ, per Reuters, the Red Bull driver told his team he wouldn’t let Pérez pass, which would’ve given the beloved Mexican F1 pilot enough points to finish the season in second place overall. After the race, Pérez — also known as Checo (link in Spanish) — had a few choice words for his teammate, saying that Verstappen’s actions showed “who he really is.” Checo then went on to say:
Yeah, I’m really surprised. I don’t know what happened, especially after all I’ve done for him, no? I think that, uh, I don’t...I don’t get his reasons, and I’m really surprised. I think if he has two championships, it’s thanks to me.
Checo made these remarks to reporters during a post-race interview, after explaining that his performance had to do with the state of his car’s tires. But when pressed about the indirect exchange with Verstappen as the race ended, Checo alluded to the cryptic reasons Verstappen cited on the radio after Red Bull told him to cede sixth place to Pérez.
The exchange between the driver and his team was caught live: you clearly hear Red Bull engineer Gianpiero Lambiase tell Verstappen to let Checo through, to which Verstappen replies, “I told you already last time, you guys don’t ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
The vague reasons have prompted F1 fans and commentators to speculate, and R&T says it could have something to with a Pérez crash during Monaco’s qualifying season, which cost Verstappen a chance at victory. Checo’s own comments briefly mention the reasons cited by his teammate, but it didn’t stop him from saying he just doesn’t get Max’s reasoning, before going on to claim partial credit for both of Verstappen’s world champion titles.
Whether Checo’s comments were an overreaction or not is subjective, but it’s clear that Verstappen could have actually claimed some credit for helping his teammate finish ahead, and get him that much closer to second place overall. Pérez is currently tied with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc for second place in the season, and a higher placement at Sao Paulo would have put him over the threshold. It also would’ve hardly cost Verstappen very much at all.