One of the most beautiful moments, it wasn’t hard to see, during the aftermath of the 2021 season-finale at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the sight of Sergio Perez smiling innocently whilst looking at the man who stood on top of the podium warming to the thundering applause of a very sensational Abu Dhabi-bound Yas Marina crowd.
It was almost as though Perez, such a notable figure at Red Bull, was celebrating his own victory whilst the actual win belonged to Max Verstappen, quite clearly the star of the dizzying race at Abu Dhabi toward the end of 2021.
A few moments earlier, it was Perez himself who rose to the occasion playing the perfect teamman or foil to Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s eventual champion as he battled Hamilton and slowed down the Mercedes man intentionally in order to bring Verstappen in fighting range of the seven-time world champion.
What followed rest is history and drama and some would say, equal bits of both!
Having said that, at the recently-concluded Spanish Grand Prix of 2022, one saw a similar sight too. Only this time around, both drivers were on the podium having completed a famous and dominant Red Bull 1-2 with Russell of Mercedes on third.
But before the final moments of the race with only a handful of laps to go in the Barcelona-bound Grand Prix, Sergio Perez encountered a bit of a challenge; and that was in having to make way for his teammate Verstappen, who was asked to be let through.
Though at his end, Perez made it amply clear that such a move wasn’t really talked about beforehand and hence, this meant (to the wider world) that the execution of the team orders at Red Bull was perhaps subject to only a few and didn’t really have a stamp of approval of the famous Mexican driver.
What followed eventually, of course, were fighting points for the famous Milton Keynes-bound stable as both of its drivers broke into the top three whilst the team also secured the fastest lap of the race.
But somewhere it was clear that Sergio Perez had let Verstappen through rather unwittingly. He fancied his own chances of winning at a venue where he, as on date, hasn’t collected a victory.
And why shouldn’t he have had a chance to win? Perez was the man leading the race in the fading moments before he was asked to make way for Verstappen.
Now, as the dust has settled over the action-packed 66-lap race, the flying Dutchman has offered a piece of his mind over what kind of relation does he actually enjoy with the Mexican dubbed Tom Cruise in the past:
“We have an amazing relationship,” shared Max Verstappen whilst talking to the media in the aftermath of the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix.
“But also after the race, once you sit down with the team, they explain exactly what was going on and I do think how we finished, was exactly how we were going to finish anyway.”
But having said that, there were others on the track at Spain and right in midst of the tussle that saw the context of team orders at Red Bull differently. And even though, at the time of the Red Bull team orders coming to light, he was already out of the race, Charles Leclerc didn’t hold back from offering his two cents on the scenario.
The following is what the famous Monegasque had to say about the Perez-Verstappen scenario that, gladly didn’t lead to a scuffle between two committed drivers:
“Red Bull made it clear what are their intentions and they did it very early in the season. Concerning us [and team orders], I haven’t spoken about it with Mattia [Binotto, team boss] and I haven’t heard of this for now,” exclaimed Leclerc.