'If he has two championships, it's thanks to me' – Furious Perez hits out at Verstappen amid Red Bull row

By Sports Desk November 13, 2022

Sergio Perez hit out at Max Verstappen after his Red Bull team-mate refused to hand him sixth place at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, saying: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me".

Verstappen overtook Perez following a late safety car at the Interlagos Circuit to take sixth, having been encouraged by his team to challenge Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in third and fourth, as long as he could first overtake Fernando Alonso.

With Verstappen unable to take points off the Ferraris, he was told to hand his position back to Perez, who is battling Leclerc for second place in the drivers' championship standings.

However, the two-time world champion failed to do so before telling race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase: "You guys don't ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I have given my reasons."

Perez was infuriated by Verstappen's failure to give way, exclaiming over team radio: "It shows who he really is."

Speaking to Sky Sports after finishing seventh – a result which leaves him level with Leclerc in the standings, Perez said: "I was told to let him by and that I was going to get the position back.

"I don't know what the complications were on his side. I have no idea, maybe you should ask him about it.

"I have nothing to say, really. After all I have done for him, it is a bit disappointing, to be honest. I am really surprised."

Perez went further when asked about the incident in Spanish by ESPN, declaring: "If he has two championships, it's thanks to me."

However, Verstappen told Sky Sports he remained willing to support Perez in next week's final race of the season, while refusing to explain his decision not to hand the place back. 

"I have my reasons for that, we just discussed that [in the debrief]," he said. "I think it was good that we finally just sat together and talked about it, and we'll just move forward from here.

"If we go to Abu Dhabi [next Sunday] and he needs support, it is not the end of the world. It is all about who finishes ahead, anyway. 

"If he needs the help, I am there, but it is good that we first talked about it now and cleared everything that was there and why I didn't do it."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, insists the team will prioritise Perez's battle for second next time out.

"We will go to Abu Dhabi to get Checo the second place and Max will support that," Horner told Sky Sports. "We won't talk about what happens internally, but the drivers shook hands on it.

"We work as a team, we race as a team and our priority is to help Checo get second in the championship. We will do the best we can to achieve that and if Max can help in any way, he will do."

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