Max Verstappen defied a call from the team to give sixth position back to team-mate Sergio Perez on the final lap of the race at Interlagos last weekend, claiming he had reasons relating to “something in the past” that was discussed after the race.
Red Bull drew a line under the matter after the race, having held talks with Verstappen and Perez, but the matter remained a key talking point on social media in the days that followed.
In a statement issued by Red Bull on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, the team addressed the matter and the abuse it has seen follow on social media.
The team admitted it “made some mistakes” in Brazil and had “not envisaged the situation that unfolded on the last lap”, meaning there were no talks to prepare for that eventuality ahead of the race.
“Regretfully, Max was only informed at the final corner of the request to give up position without all the necessary information being relayed,” said the team.
“This put Max, who has always been an open and fair team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react which was not our intention.
“Following the race Max spoke openly and honestly, allowing for both drivers to resolve any outstanding issues or concerns.
“The team accept Max’s reasoning, the conversation was a personal matter which will remain private between the team and no further comment will be made.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
The statement went on to condemn events that followed on social media as being “completely unacceptable”, prompting it to take a stand.
“The abusive online behaviour towards Max, Checo, the team and their respective families is shocking and saddening and unfortunately is something that we as a sport are having to address with depressing regularity,” the team said.
“There is no place for it in racing or society as a whole and we need to do and be better. At the end of the day this is a sport, we are here to race. Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members is deplorable.
“We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work in and enjoy our sport. The abuse needs to stop.”