With both the drivers and constructors championships wrapped up early Red Bull’s supreme dominance hit an unexpected dead end at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen showed his usual speed in qualifying. However, his race revealed another story, the Red Bull was lacking its usual rocket ship performance curve. A collision early in the opening laps with 2021 foe Lewis Hamilton pushed Verstappen down the order. Towards the end, and aided by a safety car period, Verstappen had recovered to 6th as the race drew to a close.
Sergio Perez was 4-seconds behind and looking to move past his teammate who was unable to find a way past Alonso in 5th. Red Bull requested Verstappen to allow Perez to move into 6th in order to gain valuable points in his fight for second place in the drivers championship. Perez is currently level on points with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and 2 extra points are a valuable commodity. But Verstappen outright refused… no one can understand why.
After all, Verstappen’s championship season finished early, he has title number two in the bag and has nothing to lose and everything to gain by assisting his teammate. Perez, a loyal servant to Red Bull team orders fought like a lion to help Verstappen secure his 2021 title. And when the time came to repay his loyal teammate Verstappen showed why he is a double world champion.
Yet, no one for or against Verstappen can understand his actions in Brazil. The only conclusion is that he must have some kind of long-standing issue with Perez that bubbled to the surface in Brazil during the last few laps. But even Perez can’t fathom nor pinpoint the reason, no one can. Verstappen’s motives are as clear as a Spaghetti Western anti-hero.
In many ways, Verstappen is similar to Clint Eastwood’s character “the man with no name” in Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Verstappen may lack the traditional heroic racing qualities such as values, courage, and idealism but no one can take away his abilities as a driver or his laser-focused competitive spirit. Verstappen is the hero and the villain.
His refusal to help Perez in Brazil when he had nothing to lose is perhaps a game of psychological poker, to show his teammate that he, Verstappen, always comes first.