Sergio Perez in post-race altercation with Max Verstappen after team engineers conspire to aid Dutchman in fastest lap hunt

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez won his first Grand Prix of the season and fifth overall, but his experience may have been soured after a post-race altercation with teammate Max Verstappen.

Max had started the race P15 due to a driveshaft failure during qualifying and showed tremendous skill to driver through the field and finish behind Checo in the final standings.

Max Verstappen. Credit:
Max Verstappen. Credit:

Both drivers were in constant touch with their team engineers over who had the fastest lap.

With a bonus point on offer at each race for the driver with the fastest lap, Verstappen was keen to claim it and ensure he enters the Australian Grand Prix as the leading driver.

It took some very late drama, the final lap of the race in fact, when Max drove a faster lap than Sergio to claim the bonus point.

Perez seemed clueless about what happened in the end as it is believed that Verstappen pushed the Red Bull pit wall to allow him to push for the fastest lap even though it was a risky option following his qualifying debacle.

As Perez began to join the dots, he confronted Verstappen about the fastest lap in the cooldown room and seemed far from impressed with what the Dutchman had to say.

Perez said: “They told me I had the fastest lap and to keep the pace at a certain pace. I thought the communication was the same to Max, I think we need to review the different information and I just couldn’t push then in the end.”

However, former Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel believes Perez has made a big error by challenging Verstappen in such a manner and he may have to pay the price for it.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Credit:
Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen. Credit:

“You also have to let them drive freely,” Coronel said.

“You know Max, come on, act normal! You know your teammate through and through and you think he doesn’t? What sleep mode are you in then?”

With Saturday’s reliability issues still fresh in his mind, Perez claimed that it seemed like an unnecessary option for both drivers to have to push their cars so much.

He argued that this was his main cause for concern.

“Obviously, they have more information than us and I think the team did a fantastic job of letting us race,” he said.

“I just felt like there was a point where, for the last 10 laps or so, we had very similar pace – within a tenth faster or slower. I just felt like the gap, it would have been probably a little bit less or a little more, but it wouldn’t have changed anything.

Jos Verstappen did not congratulate Sergio Perez. Credit:
Jos Verstappen did not congratulate Sergio Perez. Credit:

“I was just thinking about the car and just making sure… I was having some strange vibrations and obviously, what happened to Max was on the back of my mind today.

“I’m sure it was on the back of the mind of the team as well. So it was just a matter of making sure both cars finished to maximise maximum points.”

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