Helmut Marko defends Max Verstappen amid team orders feud

Christian Horner on Red Bull's success and hints at next step

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Helmut Marko has appeared to defend Max Verstappen despite his decision to ignore team orders at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Marko claimed Verstappen handing the place over would have been “useless” after Sergio Perez missed out on beating Charles Leclerc to P2 in the Drivers’ Championship.

Verstappen refused to follow instructions to move aside for Perez in Sao Paulo, opening up a feud between the two team-mates. However, Perez could only manage P3 in Abu Dhabi as Leclerc finished second, opening up a three-point advantage in the standings.

Perez would have only gained two points if Verstappen had let him past last week so would not have come out on top. Speaking to Sky Germany, Marko said: “It was a shame with Perez, but if now the question of swapping places in Brazil comes up it would have been useless.”

Perez took the advantage early on as he led Leclerc through the opening phase of the Grand Prix.

However, his race unravelled when Red Bull stopped him for a fresh set of hard tyres with a handful of laps to go. Leclerc stayed out and was losing around a second per lap to the Mexican in the closing stages.

However, the Monegasque had built up enough of an advantage to hold off any threat as he came home behind Verstappen. Despite Red Bull making the call to run a two-stop strategy, Marko later blamed Perez for not getting past.

The Red Bull chief hinted Perez made an error and stressed he had pushed too hard during his stint.

He explained: “We have to be satisfied. We actually did everything right in terms of strategy too. It was very tight in the end, but Perez made a mistake in the first phase of the race, he pushed too hard with his tyres and we had to pit him earlier than planned.

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“Later he tried to overtake Hamilton, but was immediately overtaken back. That cost him 1.3 seconds. We were surprised that Ferrari was able to pull off the one-stop strategy with Leclerc. That wasn’t actually in our plan.”

Perez suggested he left around “two seconds on the table” during his second stint as he was being careful on his tyres. The Red Bull star eventually finished just 1.3 seconds behind Leclerc and probably would have passed him if he had a couple more laps.

He commented: “We thought that the deg was going to be higher than it was and we just didn’t push as much as we should have pushed in that second stint and probably we left two seconds on the table there.”

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