“To immediately put me down is pretty ridiculous to be honest,” said Verstappen of the media’s reaction. “Because they don’t know how I work within the team and what the team appreciates about me so all the things I have read are pretty disgusting”
By Matt Morlidge at Yas Marina
Last Updated: 17/11/22 1:41pm
Max Verstappen hit out at the media in a heated press conference for the Abu Dhabi GP as the double Formula 1 world champion defended – but still refused to fully explain – his snub of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez team orders in Brazil.
At the Sao Paulo GP last Sunday, Verstappen refused to give up a position to Perez, who is chasing second place in a drivers’ championship the Dutchman has dominated, despite Red Bull’s instructions, later citing an incident between the pair earlier in the season as his reason for doing so.
It is understood to be related to Perez’s crash in qualifying for the Monaco GP back in May – and although Verstappen has still yet to confirm that – on Thursday ahead of the final race of the 2022 season he said the row was a result of a miscommunication and hit out at criticism of him. Verstappen called the media’s portrayal “disgusting” and claimed his family had also been “attacked” with “unacceptable” comments.
Verstappen, whose press conference followed a statement by Red Bull that admitted their mistakes and also condemned abuse, said of the incident: “I already explained [my feelings] in Mexico and the team understood and agreed.
“We went to Brazil and I just thought we were going to race, try to get the best possible result. We had a bit of a miscommunication on Saturday and Sunday, nothing had been said to me about a potential swap.
“It was only coming into that last lap that it was said on the radio, and they should have known my response already from what I said the week before. After that race we had some good discussion, we put everything on the table and everything has been solved.
“In hindsight, we should have had that conversation earlier because I have never been a bad team-mate to anyone.
“I’ve always been very helpful and the team knows that. I always put the team upfront because at the end of the day, it is a team effort. What we learned is that we need to be more open, and we just have to communicate with each other.”
Verstappen then added: “After that race, I looked very bad in the media but they also didn’t have the clear picture… but to immediately put me down 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 I have read are pretty disgusting.
“And also even more than that they started attacking my family, threatening my sister, my mum, my girlfriend, my dad and for me that goes way too far while you don’t have the facts of what’s going on. For me, that has to stop.
“If you have a problem with me that’s fine but don’t go after my family because that is just unacceptable.
“We move on. Honestly, I have a great relationship with Checo. But I just don’t understand when people don’t have the full picture, to immediately start attacking me like that.
“I hope one day they actually understand what was going on because it’s just unacceptable behaviour of so many people. also people in this paddock, not only fans, a lot of people what they have been writing about me is just ridiculous.”
Asked why he doesn’t want to set the record straight if he is upset about what has been written in the media, Verstappen responded: “We keep it between the team and myself.
“I’m just a bit fed up with all this bull**** just going around all the time. At the end of the day, I haven’t done anything wrong, people just misunderstood what was going on.”
Red Bull admit Brazil mistakes and condemn abuse
Moments before Verstappen spoke to the media, Red Bull issued a statement where they defended Verstappen.
“As a team we made some mistakes in Brazil,” it read. “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.”
It continued: “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 threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable. We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work in and enjoy our sport. The abuse needs to stop.”
Perez: We’re ready to move on
Perez, meanwhile, confirmed that he had cleared the air with Verstappen.
“We have discussed everything internally,” he told Sky Sports. “There’s been a lot of speculation on social media, a lot of hate, that is not nice to see.
“We’re just ready to move on as a team. What happened there, we discussed it, and we’re ready to move on as a team.”
He also denied that he intentionally crashed in Monaco, which is believed to be the source of Verstappen’s anger.
“It’s quite clear what happened,” he said. “I just had a bad lap and chasing the lap-time in Monaco everyone can make mistakes, and not only in Monaco, in any other track.”
Watch the final race of the 2022 Formula 1 season all live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday’s race is live at 1pm, with extensive build-up from 11.30am.