Helmut Marko sends ‘stupid’ warning to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez

Horner opens up on Red Bull's 'barren spell' amid Mercedes dominance

Helmut Marko has warned Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez that it would be “stupid” to collide in their championship duel. The Red Bull chief stressed the pair have a “dominant car” and should not come together as they battle for top honours.

The two stars were embroiled in a tense tactical battle on Sunday as Verstappen closed in on Perez on fresher tyres in the closing stages of the Miami Grand Prix. The Mexican attempted to defend the position into turn one but was unable to prevent Verstappen from storming past.

However, the battle was clean with Perez appearing to accept defeat as he refused to make life difficult for the reigning champion. Marko told De Telegraaf: “They are both mature enough to fight normally, especially with such a dominant car.

“It would be very stupid to hit each other and Checo [Perez] also knew at that moment that Max had much better tyres.” After the chequered flag, team principal Christian Horner also praised the duo for not coming together.

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Speaking over team radio, Horner told Perez: “Thanks for being fair racing. You guys were very good today. Thank you.” The 33-year-old Mexican admitted he and Verstappen would have collided if they had continued fighting.

But, the former Force India star revealed it was important to “show respect” and not damage the car for the team. He explained: “Obviously at the end of the day, we have to put the team ahead of us.

“We are just two drivers but there are so many people working back home and working really hard we have to show respect. In the end we had a really good fight between us and I think a bit more would have meant contact and I don’t think that will have been fair for any of us.”

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Red Bull has a history of team-mate duels with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel embroiled in a tense feud. The pair clashed at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix and argued after Vettel ignored team orders at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen also collided while leading the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed Horner had a tough job ensuring the title duel doesn’t get out of hand.

But, Horner admitted the team were ready to manage the issue which he described as a “luxury problem”. He added: “I think that it’s a luxury problem first of all; I think any Team Principal in the pit lane would hope to have that issue.

“It’s something that we experienced before and I think the most key thing, as Toto was mentioning, is to ensure that paranoia doesn’t creep in, that both drivers are treated equally.”

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