ABU DHABI — Red Bull has admitted it made “some mistakes” in the way it dealt with its team orders controversy at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
After overtaking teammate Sergio Perez for sixth place following a late safety car at Interlagos, Max Verstappen was told to give the position back on the final lap to help boost Perez’s points tally in his battle for second place in the drivers’ championship.
Verstappen refused the order and held on to sixth place, later telling the team on the radio, “I told you already last time. Don’t ask that again to me — are we clear about that? I gave my reasons and I stand by it.”
When asked after the race, Verstappen refused to give his reasons for ignoring the order, but Dutch media reported it was linked to a belief held by Verstappen that Perez crashed on purpose in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix to guarantee he started ahead of him.
In a statement ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Red Bull said Verstappen helping Perez had not been discussed before the race and that it accepted Verstappen’s reasons for ignoring the order — albeit without confirming what they were.
“As a team we made some mistakes in Brazil,” the Red Bull statement said. “We had not envisaged the situation that unfolded on the last lap and we had not agreed a strategy for such a scenario before the race.
“Regretfully, Max was only informed at the final corner of the request to give up position without all the necessary information being relayed. This put Max, who has always been an open and fair team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react which was not our intention.
“Following the race Max spoke openly and honestly, allowing for both drivers to resolve any outstanding issues or concerns. The team accept Max’s reasoning, the conversation was a personal matter which will remain private between the team and no further comment will be made.”
Red Bull also used its statement to condemn the abuse the team and its drivers have received on social media since the incident.
“The events that followed from a social media point of view are completely unacceptable. The abusive online behaviour towards Max, Checo, the team and their respective families is shocking and saddening and unfortunately is something that we as a sport are having to address with depressing regularity.
“There is no place for it in racing or society as a whole and we need to do and be better. At the end of the day this is a sport, we are here to race. Death…