F1: Sergio Perez puts team orders row with Max Verstappen behind him but questions remain for Abu Dhabi


Sergio Perez has said he is ready to put behind him the team orders spat with Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Verstappen defied a directive to hand sixth place to his teammate in the dying moments in Interlagos a week ago in a bid to help the Mexican clinch the runners-up spot in the drivers’ championship.

Perez was unimpressed by his teammates’ actions in the aftermath but Red Bull have already said the pair have since shaken hands and made up.

And ahead of this weekend’s final F1 race of 2022, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Perez said: “I think I’m able to pull all of this behind us. And yeah, my priority is to have a good environment to work in, and to be able to trust my teammate, trust my team, and that’s my priority.”

He refused to criticise the actions of the two-time world champion, who has defended his actions and said the matter would remain behind closed doors at Red Bull.

Perez, meanwhile, said he was partly at fault for the resulting furore. He said: “I obviously regret a lot of things, that I said that after the race because, yeah, I am back with Max in the relationship that we used to have, and we are both on the team and everyone is ready to move forwards.

“Everyone was put in a very difficult situation, within Max, within the team, myself. I think we could have handled the situation better. We are obviously going to learn from it and do things differently in the future.”

Red Bull have attempted to paint a picture of a unified team in the lead-up to Abu Dhabi. They were adamant the issue was resolved and were critical of the abuse received by both drivers, with Verstappen highlighting the vitriol his family had also been on the receiving end of.

This race weekend itself will potentially provide a truer reality of the situation. Red Bull are hotly tipped to dominate the grand prix, with Yas Marina suited to the vagaries of the Adrian Newey-designed car.

 (Red Bull Content Pool/AFP via G)
(Red Bull Content Pool/AFP via G)

Verstappen has claimed he will work, where possible, to aid Perez’s bid for second place in the championship but he is highly unlikely to give up a win for that cause, even though doing so would help put a proper end to the row.

The Dutchman knows he is clearly the team’s No1, so too Perez and the rest of the team, but the 2021and 2022 champion would do well to respect the importance of his more experienced teammate in his quest to remain on top.

The 32-year-old has been quick to aid the cause of his quicker teammate for the greater good of the team, perhaps most notably in backing up Lewis Hamilton at last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi.

But at the same time Verstappen knows that Perez is not about to look for another team to employ him, Red Bull giving him the only realistic shot at race wins next season and potentially beyond.

As 2022 draws to a close, Red Bull are adamant peace reigns within the team’s four walls. Abu Dhabi may say otherwise.