ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Red Bull defended Formula One champion Max Verstappen as “an open and fair team player” on Thursday after a disagreement involving his teammate Sergio Perez at the last race in Brazil.
Verstappen refused a team order to let Perez through for sixth place at the Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday, telling his engineer: “I gave my reasons and I stand by it.” Verstappen hasn’t said publicly what exactly those reasons are.
“As a team we made some mistakes in Brazil,” Red Bull said in a statement.
“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.”
Red Bull said it accepts “Max’s reasoning” about the incident and condemned abusive comments on social media aimed at both drivers, their family members and the team.
“Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable,” Red Bull added. “We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work in and enjoy our sport. The abuse needs to stop.”
Verstappen has long since wrapped up his second world championship and Red Bull has sealed the constructors’ title, so all there is to play for at the team is earn second place in the standings for Perez ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
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