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Is there a nasty rivalry brewing at Red Bull between reigning champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez? Well, Christian Horner says there’s not, but then again, that’s what he’s supposed to do.
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was by no means the most exciting Formula 1 race you’ll ever see. It was a bit of a parade with the only real battles taking place toward the bottom of the leaderboard,
Of course, Max Verstappen tore through the field like a hot knife through butter. The only guy he couldn’t catch was the one sitting in the same car as him: Sergio Perez.
Interestingly, Perez winning with Verstappen P2 meant that they’d be tied for the World Championship lead. That’s why in the middle of the race both drivers’ minds drifted to the fastest lap.
Ultimately, Verstappen managed to throw down the fastest lap of the race and currently holds a one-point lead over his teammate. Still, it got people wondering if could Red Bull be faced with an ugly intra-team rivalry like Mercedes saw in 2016 between Lewis Hamilton and eventual champ Nico Rosberg.
Well, team principal Christian Horner says no, but, again, that’s his job.
Horner Downplayed The Fastest Lap Incident
“We came to the conclusion that it’s the last lap, if it’s going to go, it’s going to go,” Horner said, according to RACER “I think [Max had] already come to that conclusion himself. Both drivers had the info, Checo had the fastest lap at that point, he asked what it was, so it was obvious why he was asking. He knew that Max was going to have a crack at it, and Checo gave it up after the first couple of turns, he was already a tenth and a half down, and then you saw him back out of it.”
Probably smart, on Checo’s part. What a disaster it would have been to find one of the walls around the Jeddah Corniche circuit trying to lay down a quick lap. There’s no sense in losing out on 25 points to get 1.
However, after the race, Perez claimed that he was driving a set lap time and had been told not to go for the fastest lap. Verstappen of course did and stole the extra championship point on the final lap.
“You pass the message on to the driver. Of course the team interest is to maximize the points, and at whatever point you feel you may have a reliability issue, then you obviously manage that,” Horner continued.
“I think inevitably, as Max said on the radio, the point for the fastest lap meant a great deal to him, and there was no reason for us to not let either he or Checo have a crack at it.”
Was Saudi Arabia Perez’s Best Drive At Red Bull? His Team Boss Thinks So
Horner commended Perez’s drive in Saudi Arabia. He even called it his best since Joining Red Bull ahead of the 2021 season,
“And I would say arguably that was Checo’s best grand prix, to be honest with you.” Horner said. Well-managed, he had the pace, and the two guys, particularly after the Safety Car, were pushing flat out. So you could see the relative pace to the rest of the field at that point was remarkable.”
It’s a small blip through two races. Still, considering the dominance of Red Bull’s car this year, there will likely be more. There’s a good chance the only competition either Red Bull faces, will come from the sister car.
In other words, things are going to get very, very spicy as the season progresses.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle