Payback for Monaco?


Max Verstappen's refusal to yield to teammate Sergio Perez in the final stages of Sao Paulo Grand Prix is believed to be 'payback' for an incident during qualifying in Monaco.

Having failed to overhaul Fernando Alonso, far less Charles Leclerc, as the Interlagos race came to an end, Verstappen was asked to yield to his teammate who had earlier been called on to let the Dutchman - on fresher tyres - through to battle the pair.

However, Verstappen maintained his position and held on to sixth, ahead of his teammate, meaning that in the battle for the championship runner-up spot, the Mexican goes into the final race on equal points with his rival. (Sound familiar?)

On being asked by his race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase why he hadn't given way to the Mexican, Verstappen snapped: "I told you last summer, don't ask that again to me. OK, are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it."

At a time most were under the impression that all is rosy within the Austrian team, Verstappen's comment, combined with Perez' reaction of "it shows who he really is," indicates that all is not well.

"Of course, I understand from Checo's side he's disappointed," explained Verstappen later, "but I also gave my reasons about why I didn't do it, about something that happened in the past.

"That's why I think finally, we all sat together and talked about it. And I think as a team we understand and we have to move forward."

Keen to put a lid on things before they escalated out of control, team boss Christian Horner, who had earlier been spotted in heated conversation with Verstappen and his manager, said: "We discussed it, obviously behind closed doors... or the drivers discussed it.

"As a team, our focus going into Abu Dhabi with Charles and Checo tied on points is to do our best that we can to support Checo to achieve second place. Max has obviously made that commitment as well, so as far as we're concerned it's about looking forward, not looking backwards."

Talk in the paddock is that the "something that happened in the past" was a reference to Monaco when Perez crashed out on his final run in Q3, thereby denying Verstappen a chance at pole.

Perez, who had been out-performing the Dutchman for much of the weekend, hit the barrier at Portier and bounced back onto the track only to be clouted by Sainz, the pair forming a road black, and with just 30 seconds remaining the session did not resume.

Verstappen has always questioned the crash, while members of the Dutch media claimed that Perez subsequently admitted to Horner and Helmut Marko that it was intentional and aimed at denying the Dutchman pole.

It was in the wake of the subsequent race, which marked Perez' second victory for Red Bull, that Jos Verstappen hit out at the team accusing the Austrian outfit of throwing away valuable points and not doing more to help his son.

"We put everything on the table why," explained Verstappen when pressed in the Interlagos paddock. "I gave my reasons. I'm not going to say why, but I think they understood. I already explained to them before, so it was not new to me, it was not new to them."

Asked if his refusal was payback for Monaco, he replied: "You can decide that."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Interlagos here.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 15/11/2022
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