Max Verstappen defied a team call to hand sixth place back to team-mate Sergio Perez on the final lap of the race at Interlagos last weekend, claiming he had reasons related to “something in the past” that happened after the racing was discussed.
Red Bull drew a line under the matter after the race, having had talks with Verstappen and Perez, but the matter remained a major topic of conversation on social media in the following days.
In a statement from Red Bull on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi, the team spoke about the issue and the abuse it has seen on social media.
The team admitted it had “made some mistakes” in Brazil and “didn’t foresee the situation that unfolded on the last lap”, meaning there were no talks to prepare for that possibility ahead of the race.
“Unfortunately, Max was not informed of the request to give up position until the last corner without all the necessary information being passed on,” said the team.
“This put Max, who has always been an open and honest team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react, which was not our intention.
“After the race, Max spoke openly and honestly, allowing both drivers to resolve any outstanding issues or concerns.
“The team accepts Max’s reasoning, the conversation was a personal matter that 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 “completely unacceptable”, prompting her to take a stand.
“The abusive online behavior towards Max, Checo, the team and their respective families is shocking and saddening and unfortunately it is something we as a sport have to address with depressing regularity,” the team said.
“There is no place for it in racing or in society as a whole and we need to do better and get 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 must stop.”