Horner: Brazil team order row 'a mistake on our part'

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the post qualifying FIA Press Conference. 19.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Qualifying
© XPB 

Christian Horner has admitted that the row that blew up between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez about team orders at the Brazilian Grand Prix had been down to Red Bull failing to foresee how things would play out.

Verstappen had already clinched his second world championship, and the team's focus in Sao Paulo was on securing the runners-up spot in the drivers championship for Perez.

With that aim in mind, the Red Bull pit wall instructed Verstappen to let Perez pass him on the penultimate lap to pick up extra points - but Verstappen point blank refused to comply.

In the end, Perez lost second place in the final standings by three points to Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc. It was arguably the biggest misstep for the team all season, in which Red Bull picked up 17 race wins in 22 races.

Feelings ran deep behind the scenes, with Verstappen snapping over the team radio: "“I told you already last summer, don’t ask that again to me… I gave my reasons, and I stand by it."

Perez was equally frustrated, commenting: “It shows who he really is.”

Looking back, Horner acknowledged that it was the team which had been responsible for the breakdown in Verstappen and Perez working together on that occasion.

“I think the root cause of the problem was we had never envisaged being in a situation, being in the final few laps, being in sixth and seventh place in that Grand Prix,” Horner said.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal on the grid.
23.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Race

It was something that, as we hadn't envisaged it, we hadn't discussed it before the race, and I think that was a mistake on our part," he admitted. "We should have thought through, or tried to think through every single scenario."

"I think that was a mistake as a team that we didn't discuss it and come up with a very clear plan," he noted. "Obviously it was unfortunate what happened."

Horner insisted that it had been a storm in a teacup with no lasting repercussions, and that there was no suggestion that relations between Verstappen and Perez would prove strained this season.

"It was quickly discussed, openly and transparently. And both drivers were very clear, open, and honest with each other, and from that, as a team, we move on and the dynamic between the drivers is absolutely fine.

"We've done some amazing things. These two drivers have performed incredibly well together. They’re the reason that we are in the position that we are. Max's season [was] on another planet.

"We're not going to let the events of a couple of laps in Brazil dictate the year for us," he insisted. "We made some mistakes in Brazil, we've learned from that, and as I say we move on."

Despite their dominance in last year's campaign, Horner said that Red Bull hadn't had it easy and warned that things would be even tougher in 2023.

"It was a very tough year,” he said. “When you look at the statistics it looks like we totally dominated it. But certainly in the first half of the season, Ferrari had their chances and probably a quicker package.

"But Max was outstanding throughout the year, particularly in that first half.”

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