verstappen perez

Verstappen-Perez civil war at Red Bull averted for now

verstappen perez RBR

After an afternoon of high tensions triggered at the start of the Austrian Grand Prix Sprint Race, on Saturday, a civil war was averted between Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez who all but collided.

The opening half a lap or so of the Sprint this afternoon, the RBR pitwall watching and hoping one imagines, that their drivers would not collide as they duelled for the early lead in wet and slippery conditions that greeted the start of their home race at Red Bull Ring.

While both the Blue cars got away reasonably well off the grid, Perez found some extra juice as they powered up the hill to Turn 1, he got ahead of Verstappen who came back at him forcing the #11 car wide into Turn 3 for the reigning Formula 1 World Champ to retake the lead. It was aggressive stuff from both drivers.


Perez came off second best and dropped to third while Verstappen blitzed to victory and further extend his 2023 F1 world championship points lead over his Mexican teammate, who did well to bounce back to second but way behind the #1 car when it crossed the line for the first victory of the weekend.

The radio chatter in the wake of the incident on the opening lap, went like this as the pair boxed:

Verstappen: “He pushed me off man, what the f@ck!”
Perez: “What’s wrong with Max man.”

After the race, in parc ferme Speaking to Sky F1, Verstappen reported: “The start wasn’t ideal, a bit of wheelspin. But after lap 1 when we got back into the lead it was just about managing the tyres, knowing if it wasn’t going to rain any more that 24 laps on intermediates was quite long.

“The slicks were quite a bit faster the last five laps but for us so far in the lead it didn’t make sense to pit. We just hung in there. It was a little bit of a hairy moment out of Turn One. When you get forced onto the grass it’s very slippery but we managed to keep control and from there we just did our race again.”

Perez: Max was angry that I went into Turn 2. But I didn’t see him there

Christian Horner's verdict on 'tasty' Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez sprint race clash : PlanetF1

Of his Sprint Race, Perez said: “It was a good start. A bit of a fight with Max – ended up losing a place to Nico. He was very strong in the first few laps and it was hard to get by him.”

As for the early argy-bargy, perhaps sensing unrequited tensions brewing, Perez all but apologised: “I think Max was angry that I went into Turn 2 but I didn’t see him there. I had a bad Turn 1, so I tried to protect… Once I realised he was there, I opened the door and gave the place back into Turn 2. But it was all fine, we spoke about it. Although we were 1-2, it was very bad the visibility out there.”

Team principal Christian Horner acknowledged: “They’ve spoken about it. I think Checo had Max maybe unsighted there on the right-hand side. Thankfully they didn’t collect each other and a 1-2 finish is a great result for the team.

“The rules are very fair, race hard but give each other space. At Turn One and Three was OK, the bit in the middle was where it got a bit tasty but maybe Checo didn’t see Max,” explained Horner.

Whatever the case, the spin and the after-the-fact downplaying, the reality is that when the heat was on, the tone and insinuations of those short barks during battle, says a lot of the fragile nature of F1 teammate relationships, in the only sport where beating the other guy in the other car is first priority. It is clear Max and Checo respect one another, and rightfully so, but they won’t be socialising any time soon.

With the spray settled after the coitus interrupts, which Sprint Races are in terms of the Grand Prix which happens tomorrow – Sunday – a day on which Verstappen is more than likely going to further extend his lead starting from top spot while his Perez parks his car in P15.

As for a civil war, the harsh reality is that within the confines of the Bullpen in this Verstappen-era of the sport, there can only be one loser.