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Team radios of Verstappen and Perez show problems: 'This is unnecessary'

Team radios of Verstappen and Perez show problems: 'This is unnecessary'

20-03-2023 11:11 Last update: 11:41


On the final lap of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen still grabbed the fastest lap of the race. Sergio Perez seemed slightly surprised by it, but communication with his engineer shows that Perez could also have gone for that lap himself.

Verstappen on the hunt for Perez

Red Bull Racing tried to control the situation between Verstappen and Perez. Perez held the lead with five seconds ahead of Verstappen, but the Dutchman was not going to stop there. Fernando Alonso was already well behind, but the Red Bull drivers both wanted the win.

Until the driveshaft problems, Verstappen and Perez seemed free to race. The Dutchman caught up bit by bit but suffered driveshaft problems on lap 37. As of lap 39, the race engineers of both drivers, therefore, indicated to drive 1.33.0, in order to keep Alonso behind and not drive any faster than necessary.

Whereas Perez indicates he has understood the message, Verstappen wisely keeps quiet. On laps 40, 41 and 43, Gianpiero Lambiase, therefore, repeats the message, but again there is no response. Perez, who has driven a 1.33.0 as agreed, suddenly sees that Verstappen is driving 1.32.6 and asks what is going on: ''Why are you telling me to drive 33.0 then?''

Perez's frustration increases further when the team indicates that 1.32.6 will be the new target time. ''We are now pushing for no reason guys. This is not smart.'' Later, Perez reiterates: ' 'Guys, we really don't need to do this. '' Meanwhile, Verstappen has been pointed out by GP several times at the 33.0, but Verstappen does not comply.

Fastest lap in Jeddah

As Verstappen does not comply, Perez is signalled on lap 43 that he is free to push. The Mexican then pushes and widens the gap to the Dutchman. From then on, Verstappen seems to throw in the towel regarding the overall win, but the fastest lap is still in the back of his mind.

Verstappen asks on lap 45 what the fastest lap is. GP indicates that Red Bull does not care about that, but Verstappen reveals that for him it is. GP concedes and passes: 32.1. At that point Perez's fastest time. Perez asks the same question on lap 48, two laps before the end. His engineer replies that Sergio himself holds the fastest lap at 32.1.

Assuming Verstappen is taking it easy with the problems on his car and the team's instructions, Perez takes the throttle back and drives quietly to the finish, even though he was free to push. Verstappen disregards instructions to stick to the 1.33.0 on the very last lap. He pushes one more time and drives the fastest lap of the day with a 1.31.9.

Perez will certainly not be happy with Verstappen's action, but basically, the Mexican had been given the freedom to push himself. He even asked about the fastest lap but did not inquire what Verstappen's plan was. Had he done so, Perez too could have pushed a bit more. It is unlikely to happen to him again.