Sergio Perez has firmly put the 2022 Red Bull Formula 1 team orders drama behind him, highlighting the importance of “working as a team”.
In the Brazilian Grand Prix – the penultimate round of the season – Perez waved teammate Max Verstappen through into sixth place in the hope that he could potentially take points off Charles Leclerc, who Perez was fighting against in the battle for P2 in the Drivers’ championship.
Despite not being able to pass fifth-placed Fernando Alonso to attack Leclerc, Verstappen ignored team orders when asked to let Perez back through to give the Mexican the extra two points.
However, he refused, saying he ‘gave his reasons’, which is widely believed to refer to Perez’s qualifying crash back in Monaco that denied Verstappen a shot at pole, with the two-time champion believing it to be deliberate.
This was refuted by Perez when asked by RacingNews365.com in Abu Dhabi, and three months on, he is fully focused on the team, and not the relationship with team leader Verstappen.
Perez: Important to understand the difficult races
In the end, Perez finished third in the standings after being mugged by Leclerc in Abu Dhabi by three points – meaning had Verstappen let him through in Sao Paulo, he’d have still been beaten by one point.
But the four-time Grand Prix winner was not interested in looking backwards during the Red Bull RB19 launch event in New York – where the engine deal with Ford was announced.
“It’s important to work as a team,” Perez explained to media, including RacingNews365.com.
“We want to maximise the team effort, and it is not all about the maximum for myself, it is about the team.
“We have so many people back in the factory giving everything for us, so we have to respond.
“I am working very hard with the engineers on my side to make sure we are able to go onto the next step.”
Perez struggled during the middle portion of 2022 as the Red Bull RB18 developed, with these struggles being an area he has focused on with the engineers.
“We have done a lot of work with the engineers over the winter to make sure we understood those [difficult] races,” he added.
“We took some directions with the setup that perhaps were the wrong ones, and I think towards the end of the year, we understood them.”