Christian Horner stresses that communication is key for his drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez to continue working well together.
F1 like other occupations in life is no different and not immune to grievances occurring from time to time. Focally, this can be driver rivalry within a team over one little matter or another. Jones & Reutemann, Arnoux & Prost, Senna & Prost, Piquet & Mansell, Pironi & Villeneuve – there are five examples from the past years but issues there no doubt.
The Red Bull pair faced some issues towards the end of the 2022 F1 season between Perez and Verstappen when the former was battling for second place in the drivers’ championship. In Brazil, which was a poor race for Red Bull, the Dutchman, having clinched his second title at Suzuka, was allowed through in an effort to chase down Charles Leclerc who was in a battle with Perez.
However, Verstappen could not get past the Ferrari man and refused to hand the position back to Perez. Over team radio, he refused to hand the place back giving vent to his feelings. The Dutchman alluded to talks behind the scenes and shared his reason there which has remained out of public view, even though there have been speculation about it.
Verstappen and Perez looked fine in Abu Dhabi as the Mexican eventually lost second to Leclerc. Even with the Dutchman helping in Brazil, he didn’t have enough points in the end, but this episode was enough to send some negative vibes within the Red Bull stable.
Team boss Horner admitted that they could have handled it better and noted that maintaining good communication was the focal way of managing the relationship between his drivers. “They’re both pretty grown-up individuals and they both have an open relationship with each other,” he said in a video interview with Speedcafe.com.
“Whenever there is an issue, it gets discussed and it gets put on the table and you talk it through, but I think communication is always the best way to deal with any issue. And Sergio is an experienced guy, he’s been around a long time. He’s a very rounded guy. Max, very much the straight-shooter as well”.
“The two of them have always enjoyed a decent relationship, and I just see that continuing,” summed up Horner. Questions regarding the relationship between Perez and Verstappen came to the fore over the Abu Dhabi weekend in November.
There were speculation about qualifying in Monaco where Perez crashed, preventing his team-mate from challenging for pole. The Mexican naturally refuted the claim but nobody in the team would confirm or deny if that is the focal issue of the problem. And Horner was very philosophical and candid when dealing with the media on the matter.
“There’s certain things that your drivers have the right to discuss things in private between themselves,” said Horner. “Not every conversation has to be covered through the digital media and so on. The drivers had a good conversation after the race in Brazil. The air was absolutely clear – you could see that by the time they arrived in Abu Dhabi”.
“I think this has been a phenomenal pairing for Red Bull. The success that they’ve achieved over the last couple of seasons, their joint performance achieving our first world championship this year, our first in nine years, has been a remarkable performance by both of them. And I’m sure, moving forward, they’re going to be delivering as they have done the last couple of seasons,” summed up Horner.
It was an interesting scenario for the team. There was backlash on Verstappen for not helping but without knowing the exact reasons, it is unclear what led the Dutchman to do it even if his help in Brazil wouldn’t have been enough for Perez.
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