Sergio Perez played down the furore caused by erroneous and downright malicious reports claiming Jos Verstappen snubbed him as the Red Bull F1 team celebrated the Mexican’s well-earned victory, at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Shameless “eye witness” reporters – some working for reputable media outlets such as ESPN – blatantly lied when writing that no attempt to congratulate Perez was made by Jos, father of Max Verstappen who had finished second in the race at Jeddah that night, two Sundays ago.
Shortly after the fake news went viral, a video on Twitter appeared in which Perez and Verstappen senior are briefly seen high-fiving, a fact that Checo confirmed.
Speaking about Jos ‘incident’ with reporters in Melbourne, Perez said: “I have a good relationship with Jos. We respect each other. We know this is sport, and that is how we treat it. We shook hands but they probably didn’t show that.
“I saw a few things were written on social media, but sometimes people like to create stories that don’t exist. He wasn’t smiling much but you don’t have to smile every day and all the time.
“I drive cars, I work hard with my team but I have a life out of the sport and once I am out of this paddock I am totally out of this environment. It is important to be able to disconnect because it is a waste of time if you keep tracking all the rumours.”
Much to the consternation of Team Verstappen – and perhaps the reason for long faces in the other camp – Perez was untouchable throughout the race in Saudi Arabia, whatever Verstappen threw at him, the Mexican veteran had an answer for which only served to frustrate the double F1 World Champion.
With the current Red Bull RB19 suiting his driving style, as witnessed two Sundays ago, Perez is naturally bullish: “I want to be a world champion” he wrote on social media recently.
Asked about his tweeted goal, Perez explained: “As you can imagine, I don’t manage my social media at all times” and, when asked if being F1 World Champ was his dream, the 33-year-old was adamant: “Of course, that is clear.”
To do that he will need to beat an almost unbeatable Verstappen, his teammate is the first priority for Perez, who appears to have a plant: “I don’t think there is anyone out there that is perfect. We’re all human beings and we all have ups and downs.
“But there is no other driver in such good form as Max. I am aware of that and that is why I need to bring my A-game every single week,” acknowledged Perez.
Checo touched on the subject of, fellow veteran, Lewis Hamilton’s future in the sport
This led to talk of, until very recently, the almost unbeatable Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes and his demise over the past two years in F1, from constant front-runner for almost a decade, to also an also ran.
Perez ventured: “Lewis is still very motivated but I guess it depends on what level of car he can get. We all know that being in F1 is great, and it is all of our dreams, but after so many years it must be worth it.
“Time passes by and every single year you compete it will not come back to you because you are just a F1 driver and nothing else. You cannot have a life outside of the sport.
“There must to be a very good reason for him to keep going, and whether he believes he can win a world title will be the main factor behind his decision.”
Perez is set to compete in his 238th Grand Prix on Sunday in Melbourne, his 46th as a Red Bull driver. Last year he finished second behind race winner Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc; a fuel leak meant a DNF for Verstappen that day.