Verstappen and Perez aren't enemies nor friends

Despite Croft's reassurance, it is clear that the two drivers' relationship has been strained, with both wanting to remain competitive and secure their place at the top of the leaderboard.

David Croft, the British television broadcaster for Sky Sports and lead commentator for Sky's Formula One coverage, said Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen are “not at war with each other”, but also are not the “best of friends” either.


There was a heated moment between the two of them sometime in Saudi Arabia, after Verstappen set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, and took the bonus points that kept him at top of the Drivers' Championship and that did not sit well with Perez. In addition to that, Verstappen set lap times which were quite quickly than the agreed delta, which was set by the engineers on the pit wall. 

Verstappen was quite disappointed when he did not win the race in Jeddah, and Perez called for an internal review as he felt he got “different information” compared to Verstappen. Croft believes this is normal, as all drivers aim for the top. “I don’t think it’s a driver dispute necessarily, but clearly Sergio was feeling a bit vulnerable whilst out in the lead in Jeddah on Sunday night and he kind of felt that his teammate was allowed to do lap times that were faster than him,” explained Croft. 

“Luckily for Sergio, he had built up quite a big gap by that stage, and it didn’t affect the result. He was probably a little bit miffed that Max Verstappen took the fastest lap as well because that fastest lap point kept Max Verstappen in the lead of the championship, Sergio would have led the championship for the first time in his career had he got that fastest lap. So there are seeds of suspicion. I don’t think that they’re best friends. Certainly, things have happened in the past, Brazil last year when Max didn’t move over to let Sergio pass to help Sergio’s chance to finish second in the championship, Monaco last year when Sergio crashed in qualifying and denied Max Verstappen the chance to go and get pole." 

He continued, "Things have happened that have caused a bit of friction between the two teammates, I don’t think all is smooth, but they’re certainly not at war with each other. There are certainly no massive arguments, but if Red Bull is the team that is going to win the championship this year, and we have to say we’ve got another 21 races to go yet, so the championship is far from being over. But if they’re the dominant team, if they’re the team that expects to win the championship, I think it’s only natural that we see that the two drivers have a bit of friction, because both know this is a great opportunity for one or other of them to be World Champion at the end of the season. And whilst Max does have a couple of World Championships, Sergio, of course, hasn’t been in that position to win a championship in the past.”

Perez played a huge supporting role in Red Bull Verstappen’s title success, although Verstappen has also worked hard to attain it.


Croft hopes that throughout the season, Red Bull will not interfere with team orders. “I don’t know what’s in Sergio Perez’s contract, I don’t know what’s in Max Verstappen’s contract, but you would hope as a Formula 1 fan, that there’s nothing there to say ‘Sergio, you’re going to drive for your team-mate. Your team-mate is going to be World Champion’,” Croft said. “Looking at their records together at Red Bull, Max Verstappen has won more races, been on more poles, has got more podiums, has got more points. You can argue the case, I think very convincingly, Max Verstappen is a better driver. And that’s no disrespect to Sergio Perez, he’s a fine driver, but I think Max is on the way to becoming one of the all-time greats in Formula 1, given the start he’s made to his F1 career and the fact that he’s still young enough to get many more championships in by the time he retires.”