A week on from the Interlagos event, where Verstappen refused to move aside late on the final lap to boost teammate Sergio Perez one spot in his championship battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, the world champion appeared in the pre-event press conference for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after his Red Bull squad released a statement condemning “abusive online behaviour” towards Verstappen and his family.
Verstappen explained that his decision not to move aside “wasn’t about the position” – the Dutchman, running sixth with his 2022 championship triumph already secured, was a focus on questions about why he had not helped Perez – but instead said it came about because of “a bit of a miscommunication” with Red Bull.
“It was about something that happened earlier in the season and I already explained that [to Red Bull] in Mexico,” Verstappen said, as media speculation linked tension within the Red Bull camp to Perez’s crash in qualifying for the Monaco GP back in May.
“The team understood and agreed. We went to Brazil and I just thought: ‘We’re just going to race, try to get the best possible result’.
“And we had a bit of a miscommunication on the Saturday and Sunday – nothing had been said to me about a potential swap or whatever.
“It only came into that last lap that it was said on the radio. They should’ve known my response already from what I said the week before.
“After that race [in Brazil], we had some good discussions – we put everything on the table and everything has been solved.
“In hindsight, we should’ve had that conversation earlier because I have never been a bad teammate to anyone.
“I’ve always been very helpful and the team knows that. I always put the team up front because at the end of the day it is a team effort.
“I think what we learned from that is we have to be a little bit more open and we just have to communicate better to each other.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
“But, after that race, I looked very bad in the media. They didn’t have the clear picture. But to immediately put me down like that is pretty ridiculous to be honest.
“Because they don’t know how I work within the team. And what the team appreciates about me. So, all the things that I’ve read are pretty disgusting.
“And also, even more than that, they started attacking my family, they were threatening my…