Sergio Perez called out for using ‘dirty tricks’ against Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi GP

Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out

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Sergio Perez has been accused of using ‘dirty tricks’ to help Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen took the win – and the F1 world title – in sensational fashion at the Yas Marina after overtaking Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling final lap.

The post-race talk, however, has been dominated by the controversial developments in the closing laps after Williams driver Nicholas Latifi careered off the track and crashed into the barriers.

At that point Hamilton held a comfortable 11 second lead over Verstappen and seemed destined to take the chequered flag. But when a safety car was deployed, the Dutchman took the gamble of pitting to put on fresh tyres.

The move duly paid off when race director Michael Masi, having originally ordered that lapped cars could not overtake the safety vehicle until it left the track, then changed his mind under pressure from Red Bull boss Christian Horner and permitted the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to unlap themselves.

It meant that Verstappen, 24, could be on his rival’s tail when racing restarted in time for that now infamous final lap, and with Hamilton on worn tyres, he was inevitably overtaken.

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Perez, 31, never completed a final lap himself having retired from the race just moments before the drama unfolded, but he had been pivotal in giving Verstappen renewed hope earlier on.

Hamilton was in command at the midway point and remerged from his first pit stop looking to cement his advantage, only to find the Mexican temporarily leading in front of him.

Red Bull delayed calling Perez in with the hope that he would then hold up Hamilton, and he did just that, refusing to buckle as the Mercedes man swarmed all over him.

After being overtaken Perez immediately used his DRS to take the place back, and by the time he succumbed a second time, Verstappen had closed in behind. Indeed, the Dutch protege later described his partner as a “legend” over team radio.

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F1 journalist Will Buxton was also impressed, tweeting “The Red Bull just doesn’t look like it’s got the race pace to keep up with Mercedes as Verstappen slips back again but my word what an incredible piece of defensive driving from Perez. Sensational.”

However, the post infuriated F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais who replied to Buxton with “I thought you loved racing, that was BS.

“I can’t begin to understand how Perez can be happy with himself and how people applaud him for what he did.

“Purposely slowing down and using every dirty trick to impede Hamilton. Zero sportsmanship, from the whole team really.”

Bourdais wasn’t done there, following up with “They completely sacrificed Perez’s race to put him in that position.

“Losing purposely seconds per lap to impede, look again… He wasn’t trying to stay ahead but only slowing Lewis as much time as possible.”

Regardless, Red Bull bosses and Perez didn’t look concerned by any potential criticism on Sunday night, with the driver joining in with the wild celebrations.

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