Helmut Marko shuts down Red Bull team orders row with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes claim

Sergio Perez extends contract with Red Bull Racing until 2024

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Helmut Marko has insisted that Red Bull’s handling of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez as team-mates is markedly different from Mercedes choosing to prioritise Lewis Hamilton over Valtteri Bottas in previous years. Red Bull have come under fire since ordering Perez to let Verstappen through during the latter stages of last month’s Spanish Grand Prix, with many onlookers having criticised their decision to stop the Mexican driver from challenging for victory in only the sixth race of the new season.

Perez went on to win at the next time of asking in Monaco but there are still questions over whether he will be forced to yield in future instances to aid Verstappen’s title bid over the course of this year. Marko has dismissed the idea of any favouritism at Red Bull, though, by reminding critics that Mercedes often chose to implement a more disruptive tactic when Bottas raced for them alongside Hamilton between 2017 and 2021.

“He won Monaco, right?” Marko told Formel1.de, as reported by RacingNews365, when quizzed on whether Perez will be permitted to win against Verstappen this season.

“In Spain, Max’s strategy was changed because his DRS was not working. This created a completely new situation compared to Perez, who was on a two-stop strategy.

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“Verstappen quickly caught up with Checo and Perez had no chance with that strategy. We told Perez to get out of the way as soon as possible because he was on a different strategy.

“It was about him doing it as quickly as possible, not like it used to happen with Hamilton and Bottas or something, and that they held each other up for another half or full lap. I don’t think these are team orders.”

Red Bull have already underlined their long-term commitment to Perez by handing the 32-year-old a new and improved contract, which is set to run until 2024, after his latest victory on the streets of Monaco. However, Marko went on to insist that Perez is simply not as quick as Verstappen, who is very much Red Bull’s poster boy and is likely to remain so over the course of this season.

“You forget one thing, Verstappen has already missed the finish twice this year [and] both times he was in second place,” added Marko.

“If he had managed to collect those eighteen points, then the distance to Perez would have been clearly greater. It doesn’t change the fact that Checo is having a great season.

“But still, when it comes to sheer speed, Max is usually the faster of the two.”


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