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”.
“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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2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
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