Max Verstappen is arguably the most in-form driver in F1 today. His rise to the top has been meteoric, to say the least, and being his teammate is among the hardest jobs in F1 currently. Verstappen won both the 2021 and 2022 world championships and at the young age of 25, has already surpassed the career of legends like Fernando Alonso.

In 2021, when Sergio Perez joined Red Bull as Verstappen’s teammate, the gap between the two was immediately visible. While Verstappen went on to challenge for a win in every single race, Perez struggled to get into the podium places very frequently.

However, there were times when the Mexican driver got the better of Verstappen over the course of a race weekend, but other factors prevented him from charging up the field. The most recent example of this was the 2022 Sao Paolo GP, where Verstappen’s refusal to let Sergio Perez pass led to widespread controversy.

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez’s Sao Paolo controversy
Verstappen qualified in P2 for the Sao Paolo GP in a race that he entered with the world championship already secured. His teammate Perez qualified in ninth but was in the mix for P2 in the drivers’ championship.

The Mexican driver had the chance of finishing ahead of Verstappen and was much faster than him towards the latter stages. The latter dropped down to sixth position after a safety car mishap with Perez right behind him. Perez was desperate to get past Verstappen because he still had a chance to catch up to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the championship standings.

Despite Red Bull issuing direct team orders and Perez calling him out on the radio, Verstappen straight up refused to let his teammate by. This was met with massive backlash aimed towards Verstappen with the majority of the F1 community calling him ‘petty’ and labeling his actions as completely unnecessary.

Reason why Verstappen didn’t let Perez pass
According to Alberto Tello de Meneses, who is a specialist in public image and communication strategy, Verstappen’s reason behind not letting Perez pass was purely ideological. His own motivation and principals prevent him from letting his teammate get the better of him.

His self-centered approach to races strives him to do better on the track and makes him the driver he is. However, it comes off as negative to people around him, because they want him to help his teammate too.

Verstappen’s ideological approach is based around the fact that if he allows Perez to pass once, his team knows that he might do it again. That is why he lets them know that he won’t let anyone get better of him under any circumstances.


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