Tensions simmer at Red Bull
In contrast, Verstappen once again blew his top on the radio when technical problems made his afternoon harder than it had to be. The world champion had already made a rare unforced error with his moment in the gravel at Turn 4, when it seems he was “caught by surprise” by a gust of wind, just as Carlos Sainz Jr had been two laps earlier. Then Verstappen lost his cool while hunting George Russell, in what became a fight for the lead after Leclerc’s retirement, when his Drag Reduction System (DRS) rear wing only worked intermittently.
At times, the flap would open only to immediately close, making it impossible for Verstappen to make a move on Russell stick into Turn 1. “We can’t even make the f****** DRS work, man! Unbelievable,” he raged, presumably in reference to Red Bull’s reliability problems that have already led to a pair of race retirements in 2022. Verstappen is not a patient man when confronted by such vulnerabilities – but that’s not news.
Red Bull reacted well, using pitstop strategy to lift Verstappen past Russell and then made that different approach an excuse to implement team orders against Sergio Perez. The other Red Bull didn’t have the pace to beat Verstappen over 66 laps, but nevertheless ‘Checo’s’ frustration at his ‘number two’ treatment caused obvious tension. Like Leclerc, he kept his cool in public but made it clear he wished for further discussion behind closed doors. It always hurts to be treated as second-best – but again, the fact Red Bull prioritises Verstappen over his team-mate is hardly surprising, Perez shouldn’t have been surprised.