Red Bull driver Max Verstappen believes that those drivers who are regularly getting outperformed by their teammates during race day should accept that they will always be referred to as ‘the second driver’.
In what certainly seemed like a jibe aimed at his own teammate Sergio Perez, Verstappen further urged second drivers not to live in a “fairytale”.
Ever since Verstappen got promoted to the Red Bull senior team, there has been little doubt that the team has looked at him as its primary driver.
The Dutchman has also repaid the faith with two back-to-back world championships and with many believing he is yet to reach his peak in the sport, it is fair to say that he looks primed for further success.
In the company of Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon or Perez, Verstappen has consistently outperformed them ever since he was given the opportunity at Red Bull.
A similar story unfolded at Mercedes concurrently to Verstappen’s rise at Red Bull.
Valtteri Bottas was regularly losing out to Lewis Hamilton on raceday and given the British driver’s vast success and experience, it was pretty obvious that Mercedes also prioritised his drives.
While Bottas did show some glimpses of great ability during his five years at the team, these were far too scarce to ever really establish his credentials as a championship candidate.
Verstappen pointed to the example of Bottas, saying that the number 2 driver at a team should be content playing the role of a ‘wingman’.
He argued that if Bottas contested this position, it was likely that Hamilton would ensure that he didn’t have as long a journey at Mercedes.
One can’t help but feel that this is a subtle message to Perez, with whom Verstappen’s relationship is apparently one of ‘hatred‘.
“Every year he starts fresh, but after a few races you realise it’s not going to happen again and you accept your role,” Verstappen said.
“[Bottas] still finished on podiums, he won a few races and took pole positions.
“You just have to accept that the driver next to you is just a bit better. That’s fine, that can happen. It’s important that he accepted it.
“Some drivers can’t do that and then it goes completely wrong. Then they don’t survive for very long.
“I’m not going to name names, but you have to accept your role. You can’t live in a fairy-tale world.”
Bottas eventually left the Silver Arrows to find a more important role for himself at Alfa Romeo.
Max’s father, Jos Verstappen, believes that while this position has given Bottas some authority at the team, it is likely to be his last role in the sport.
“Bottas had that opportunity with Mercedes for many years, and now he drives for Alfa Romeo,” Jos said.
“I think he is on his last stint in Formula 1.
“If you’re part of a championship team, you go for it and try. After a few races you realise that it’s not going to work.”
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