(L to R): Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022

Red Bull’s ‘no fighting’ instruction to Perez ‘wasn’t team orders’ – Horner

2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Red Bull told Sergio Perez not to fight his team mate during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to avoid a repeat of the collision which occurred between their drivers at the track four years ago.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo collided while fighting for position during the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Perez now occupies the seat alongside Verstappen at the team.

During today’s race Perez was told “no fighting” when he was caught by Verstappen while leading the race. In response to a question from RaceFans, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted he feared a repeat of 2018.

“The pace difference between the two drivers was so significant,” he explained. “We’d discussed it this morning about, ‘look, if you’re racing each other, just give each other space’. And they did that today.

“2018 isn’t too far away at the back of our minds. So it was very important that the drivers at this stage of the championship are fair with each other.

“Because the priority is to maximise the points versus Ferrari. We know they’ve got a very quick car at the moment, we’ve seen how quickly things turn around, so as a team we need to prioritise that.”

This was the second time in three races Perez has been told to let Verstappen past. He had to do so on two separate occasions during the Spanish Grand Prix. However, Horner said today’s instruction was not a case of “team orders”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku Street Circuit, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in pictures
“I think today wasn’t strictly team orders,” he said. “It was just a question of you’ve got certainly a faster car and a slower car and Max had a significant pace advantage. Checo at that point was quite heavy graining on his rear tyre.

“So it’s just a question of ‘guys, let’s not put each other against the pit wall here, if one car is quicker, concede, and let’s focus on getting the best result for the team’.”

Horner praised Perez’s handling of the moment. “Checo is a mature guy,” he said. “He gets the bigger picture and he gets that it’s a long, long championship. He’s in the form of his career off the back of Monaco, his qualifying performance yesterday.

“I think maybe with the benefit of hindsight coming into this weekend, perhaps there was too much weight put on qualifying in his set-up with that rear deg that he experienced. So that’s something to have a look at. Max was certainly in better shape in the race than Checo was at the back end of that first stint.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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51 comments on “Red Bull’s ‘no fighting’ instruction to Perez ‘wasn’t team orders’ – Horner”

  1. He is right. It was a suggestion.

    1. GS (@gsagostinho)
      12th June 2022, 16:27

      Exactly! As in ‘we suggest you don’t fight Verstappen as he passes by you’

    2. Nice contract you’ve got there Perez. Shiney. Pricy was it? Shame if something were to happen to it…

    3. A team suggestion

  2. In other news, ‘box, box’ call did not mean Perez was asked to pit.

    1. Exactly, what a joke!

      Homestly, I am more embarrased for Perez. He has no guts…

  3. it must be good journalism when you write something opposite to what you’re reporting.

  4. I can’t stand Horner.

    For clarity, that doesn’t mean that I dislike him, it’s just ‘a question’ about whether or not he’s a likeable character and whether he should consider moderating his behaviour or not…

  5. Is there a single living F1 follower who is naive enough to believe that this wasn’t a team order?

    I know that some fanatical followers like to blind themselves to reality, but in your heart of hearts you know that this is exactly the same as what happened to Bottas for all those years.

    If Checo ever fights back they can say,
    “Well leave the team then. Like Ricciardo did. Worked well for him didn’t it. Now shut up and do as you are told.”

    1. @nullapax Of course there will be some such as yourself who are obviously motivated to see it that way, or insist that others do, but what this really was was a no-brainer. Let’s see what Checo can do about Max’s pace and see if he can do better than VB and his pace compared to LH for all those years.

      Now if you want to argue VB didn’t have the same equipment and opportunity, nor does Checo, that’s something else. But as we know they had/have equal equipment and opportunity so it is up to them to compete. Would you have had Checo allowed to stay ahead of a Max, which would have had to have been by order against Max, since Max was a second a lap faster and gaining on him in leaps and bounds? I think that would be pretty naive of you to expect that.

      1. @robbie how do you know that the drivers are being given equal equipment? You’re taking the word of the team that they are giving them equal equipment – but, at the same time, Gasly and Albon are known to have had to use older specification components when they were at Red Bull, with Marko later confirming that Albon did have races where the team were giving him older specification parts (having originally claimed that they were getting the same specification parts). Why should it therefore be taken as given that Red Bull will always give the same specification parts to Perez?

        1. anon Sure I’m not a fly on the wall but I think it is pretty apparent by SP’s form that if there is a difference to the cars it is nothing other than them trying different things like all teams do all the time, but certainly nothing maliscious to hold one driver back. Why would they? They want to win the WCC too.

          As to Albon and Gasly it might well have been that having the latest greatest spec of wing or what have you would have been wasting R&D as they were struggling to get a handle on the car in general and would not notice a subtle change that Max would. Checo however is quite up to speed and so would make good use of the latest bits like Max can, but I would still understand some comparison work going on. But again, there’s nothing in it for them to give SP an inferior car. Max doesn’t need that kind of help, and they need to keep their eye on Ferrari.

        2. Didn’t Horner himself say something about Verstappen having a (slightly) lighter wing which might have been the reason for the DRS failing for him a few times after Monaco?

          I mean, as @nullapax mentions, why would we even question whether this was a team order? What else would it be? Also, it made perfect sense to give that order here, since it was clear by then that Perez’ tyres were not working for him anymore while Max had better pace. Not that Red Bull wouldn’t have given the call later on if Perez would be running ahead with both Ferraris out.

      2. That’s all fine. What’s ridiculous is Horner saying it doesn’t mean it’s a team order!!

        He’s fast becoming the Alan Partridge of F1 Team Bosses.

    2. I don’t understand this sentiment nor the purpose of this article other than do deliberate trying to discredit Max. Checo should firstly start with levelling Max race pace and consistency during multiple races. Then we can start talking about competing. A win in Monaco doesn’t suddenly qualify Checo as a competitor. Neither has any win ever qualified Bottas as one. The consistency of race pace is currently only matched by Leclerc (and Lewis in the past). All other drivers seem to have on and off days. That doesn’t win championships.

      1. True, the pace difference was huge, I see it as a way to avoid a baku 2018 repeat, since that time ricciardo was faster and was trying to overtake, but there wasn’t the pace difference there was today.

        1. There was a huge pace difference when Daniel measured it with his front wing (1.2M/ms).

  6. A no-brainer call for RBR. Max simply had more pace, and Checo obviously fully gets that for this race. You can just tell this was nothing that has upset Checo. We could plainly see the pace advantage Max had, not unlike the number of times VB never made it difficult for LH when his race pace was better. Today we also had Mac debating who was faster and what to do about that between the drivers.

    1. Well, if both of them were really racing each other they could and should have boxed Checo while he was still in the lead instead of letting him struggle round and round. But that would have meant he got the undercut and priority over Verstappen.
      I doubt it would have changed the outcome of the race but at least we would have gotten one…

      1. @roadrunner Would depend on if they would have released SP into traffic by doing that. I have no doubt they always try to do the best they can for both drivers as circumstances change, sometimes by the second.

      2. Strategists would disagree with that: The 9 laps old Mediums weren’t that bad, compared to the fresh hards, ( comparable lap times) but the fresh hards would not survive the 42 laps remaining, basically nullifying the advantage of the “free stop”. Even for Checo, who is normally good at preserving tires. With hindsight, he would’ve been lucky because of the 2nd VSC.
        Had the VSC been @ lap 15-20, I guess no-one would’ve doubted and stayed out.
        Those that stopped at the first VSC had quite a bit of luck that the second VSC cut the remaining laps in half, and took a lot of time giving them a second opportunity to stop at reduced cost. Those that didn’t (AT) dropped positions in the end.

        1. Agreed. Having missed the first VSC left Perez between a rock and a hard place. He had to much deg to compete with the sister car and it was still to early to pit for a normal one stopper.
          But when you’re the slower car and your teammate catches you, your only saving grace is track position. They could have pitted him a lap before he led Verstappen by and used the undercut to stay in front. Maybe he would find more pace as the race is going on, maybe his deg on hards would be lower, maybe he would luck into a second (V)SC. A lot of maybes of course, but just letting Verstappen by and then basically following his strategy doomed Pérez to finish behind.
          I can fully understand that Red Bull do not want a scenario with to drivers racing each other on different strategies while Leclerc is still in the mix, but they went the easiest way and it definitely did not favour Pérez.

          1. Yes, agree with this.

    2. Finally an sensible comment on this article.

  7. RandomMallard
    12th June 2022, 17:05

    It absolutely was team orders. But it was absolutely the correct decision. At this point, they were both still fighting Leclerc, and having Perez and Verstappen battle would have cost both of them (especially Max) a lot of time relative to Leclerc, or worse (as Horner says, they’ll still remember 2018). It’s tough on Perez, but he just didn’t have the pace today, especially at the end of that first stint on the mediums. Verstappen was pulling several seconds a lap after passing Perez, with the two of them on the same strategy. I really don’t like it (I was definitely supporting Perez today), but it was definitely the right choice.

    1. I’m not certain looking at the place difference after the pass is the right thing to do. I strongly doubt that, even if Perez had ended up lapping faster afterwards, the team would have made the same call in his favour, and he knows it. Knowing he had a decent gap behind him and his only chance of a win was a problem or big mistake from Max, his best of option was to take care of his car and his tyres, and just make sure he didn’t lose any places. Pushing hard just risked him losing a comfortable 2nd with little to no chance of improving.

      I still want to know what on earth happened to Perez 1st stop. There doesn’t seem to be any reason he was held for so long: all the tyres were on, nothing was coming, it just looks like someone fell asleep and didn’t release him, keeping him there 2-3 seconds longer than needed.

      1. RandomMallard
        12th June 2022, 18:47

        @drmouse I think the pace between Verstappen being let pass (sorry, passing with “no fighting”) and Perez pitting, is probably a good metric, because Perez would likely still be trying to get ahead of, or as close to after his stop, Leclerc. After that, I completely understand just backing off, but he was significantly slower than Max while Leclerc was still a key factor in the race, and that’s what makes me think it was probably the right call. Agree about having no idea about the first stop.

    2. Kind of agree on this one. Verstappen was a lot faster, Baku is a tight circuit and incident-prone, Red Bull have the Ricciardo-Verstappen scrap still in their minds for good reason, the repercussions were huge for the team, leading to DR’s exit. Not to say the pit stops and strategy were all necessarily kosher.

      1. That’s true, I just saw that as a possible 3rd and 4th place lost (I believe they were 5th and 6th but had put the ultrasofts on and gaining more than 1 sec per lap, so could’ve come back in the race in the following laps), but considering it led to red bull not having a decent 2nd driver for years, the repercussions were indeed big.

  8. As Horner said after the Monaco race, they will back the faster driver. Checo had a big lead over Max but he got caught very rapidly so he was told not to fight. If someone is a second a lap faster than you, you’re not keeping them behind so the options were to battle and hold each other up or let your team mate past and minimise any time lost.

    1. Seems logical to me. They have the data, see the pace, have a better grasp on tyre wear than the viewers. Dont understand why people want to twist this. Pain from last season?

  9. After watching for 12 years I am done with F1. Sorry for PER fans and racing purists in general.

  10. It does appear as if Max had a better setup or maybe he also brought the tyres in better or was better able to manage the graining. At that point in the race Checo was losing quite a chunk of time. The only thing that concerned me was the first pitstop for Checo was significantly slower than Max’s for no reason. The tyres were on but the jack man waited a couple of seconds to drop. The same thing happened at his second stop, although I could see they were struggling a bit with the rear left that time.

    Also it seemed pretty apparent they had called the race off when Leclerc dropped out. They were both being told to drive to set times and Max was even told not to use the DRS, no risks were being taken by that point.

    1. Yup, those two extra seconds when he was held on the jacks were a disgrace. Red Bull up to their old tricks. I’m surprised the F1 media don’t call it out.

  11. Usual RBR wingman strategy. What else to expect.

  12. If it was the other way around they would have asked Perez to stay behind Max. It’s clear Max is the nr 1 driver and I believe he fully earned it. Perez will win some races this year but under normal circumstances he’s not a title contender. Sorry for perez but he should be happy that he is still in F1 and driving for a top team.

  13. This guy is lying us in the face so blatantly….!!!

  14. I remember him talking to Vettel on the radio in Malaysia 2013 when he defied team orders and won the race and was all “c’mon seb, don’t be that guy, don’t win this race…” in a manner so soft and unconvincing it felt like Vettel was team principal, not him. He obviously loved every bit of Vettel’s attitude.

    At least he is entertaining.

  15. I think the only people that think Checo has snowball’s chance in hell to beat Max on track either on pure pace or in a straight battle are the pundits trying to sell the sport to the viewing audience.

    But hey “team orders” sound like ratings when a guy just drives several seconds a lap faster to close a gap and then immediately pulls 3 seconds ahead in the next lap. It just was not ever going to be Checo’s race to win with that pace deficit.

  16. This was always going to be the case and everyone must remember that Perez was dropped by his previous team for Sebastien Vettel. Perez atleast is at the front of the grid driving one of the best cars right now. I don’t believe Sergio is stupid, he saw what happened to Daniel as did everybody else. But it was this drive or an exit from F1.

  17. Voice of reason
    12th June 2022, 20:18

    In other news: Pope is atheist, Bears use indoor plumbing.

  18. Horner was seen after the race trying to sell some tourists 2 slightly used Ferraris, in good working order, only driven by grandmothers to get to church each Sunday.

  19. Horner doesn’t care who wins :-)

  20. Smart decision in terms of the championship.

    But let us just take this moment to commemorate the great sir Frank Williams, whose love for the sport let to the firm belief that his drivers should always be allowed to race each other. Even if it costed them the championship,

    A true racer and a true legend.

  21. It was team orders, why lie. Sure it wouldn’t change the result but don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Cant blame Perez for cruising and giving up on the win the second half of the race after that.

  22. A whole fuss about nothing here. No, there wasn’t a team order that checo should let Max pass, but the team made sure there wasn’t going to be a RIC vs VER or PER vs OCO scenario here. This is a circuit that doesn’t allow for a lot of wheelbanging, so it makes perfect sense to tell the significantly slower Perez to not try anything stupid.
    Can’t believe this gets so much attention and Norris vs. Ricciardo isn’t even mentioned.

    1. tielemst

      No, there wasn’t a team order that checo should let Max pass, but the team made sure there wasn’t going to be a RIC vs VER or PER vs OCO scenario here

      ‘No fighting’ in this scenario means let him pass so by definition that is a team order.

      Can’t believe this gets so much attention and Norris vs. Ricciardo isn’t even mentioned

      That may be in another article later in the week but if you were listening to the commentary both drivers were faster when on hards compared to mediums. Both drivers were told to hold off at different times for that reason. It points to a mistake in strategy in my opinion disadvantaging both drivers and the team.

  23. “We have massive respect for our drivers– they’re very mature, and work well together. So obviously, we had to tell them not to fight each other– and that wasn’t a team order, that was a … team caution! Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket. We don’t give team orders (that benefit Checo).”

    — Christian “Clinton” Horner

  24. Shakira Shakira!

  25. They made one car more suitable for Qualifying and the other for Race car to cover Ferrari. This gave them more options during the race. Like forcing the car in front or back to pit or not to pit.

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