Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Perez: Red Bull said they would reverse first position swap with Verstappen

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Sergio Perez says Red Bull told him he would get his place back after letting Max Verstappen overtake him early in the Spanish Grand Prix.

It proved to be the first of two occasions on which Perez was instructed to let Verstappen overtake him.

“On the first stint when I let Max by I was told that I was going to get it back and we knew we were on different strategies,” Perez said after the race.

Perez was running behind Verstappen and George Russell early in the race. Verstappen then spun and rejoined the track behind his team mate.

After Perez made several attempts to pass Russell, his race engineer Hugh Bird told him: “Okay Checo let Max have a shot. Let him through before four.”

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
Perez asked for “one more lap” but was told: “Let’s give him a shot now. We’ll pay it back later.”

Verstappen was unable to pass Russell at first due to an intermittent problem with his DRS. Red Bull therefore moved him onto a three-stop strategy while Perez, who was later able to pass Russell, pitted twice.

That put Perez back in front of Verstappen, who closed rapidly after his third pit stop. Perez was again told to give up the lead of the race to Verstappen, who went on to win.

“When I was back on it I felt like I could have gone through [Russell] and probably give a better shot at my strategy to make it work,” Perez added. “But at the end of the day, it turned out to be the three-stop the way to go today.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

The three-stop strategy gave “a better race time of the various strategies”, said Perez. “So I think if I went in that direction I would have won the race. And it worked out for Max.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Transcript: “Why won’t you let me by?” Team orders and DRS dramas on Red Bull’s radio in Spain
“I think that was something we discussed, it was good because we didn’t know at the time which strategy was going to be the best one.”

He said he would have had a chance of making his two-stop strategy work had he been able to get his position back from Verstappen the first time he passed him.

“I only felt that in the first stint, when I gave the position to Max, that I was told that I was going to get it back, and when I was on the two-stop I felt that I could have gone through Max and George a bit earlier to try and make the strategy work.

“But probably it wouldn’t have still been enough. But still it is a great team result.”

Perez, who eventually made a third pit stop in order to take the bonus point for fastest lap, was pleased with the one-two finish for the team but said there are matters he wants to discuss with them following the race.

“The season is still very young. And I think the momentum in the team is great. So we just have to discuss things internally.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“But there’s nothing that I’m concerned of. If anything, I can say that the atmosphere in the team, the momentum we’re carrying, it’s tremendous, like no other team. So I’m pleased with that.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it made no sense to allow the two drivers to fight at the end of the race.

“[Verstappen] very quickly closed on Checo and at that stage there was a tyre delta of close to two seconds a lap,” he said. “So with [high] water temperatures, oil temperatures, DRS that was intermittently working, it didn’t make any sense to let them fight because it was an unfair fight anyway.

“And as it turned out we had to pit Checo anyway for the end of the race. So both drivers worked together as a team and to get the maximum points today was hugely important on a day that unfortunately Ferrari had an issue.”

Horner believes Perez will understand the team’s tactics once he has the full picture of how the race unfolded. “I spoke with him when he got out of the car. The problem for any driver if they don’t have the clear overview of the strategy or a race plot in front of them it’s always going to be emotive to give up the lead. He played very much the team game.

“I think he understood clearly it wasn’t a like-for-like fight because the pace delta between the strategies was so great. From a team point of view I think for me it just didn’t make any sense which was why we didn’t let the drivers get into a fight today.”

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Spanish Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

117 comments on “Perez: Red Bull said they would reverse first position swap with Verstappen”

  1. I think they could’ve let Checo pass Max at that 2nd situation but the letting Max trough on those other occasions seemed logical.

    He was so much quicker in qualy and race.

    1. ThreePurpleSectors (@)
      22nd May 2022, 22:49

      @anunaki, Checo could have won the race had they released him to fight for victory early on. Instead the team was focused on keeping him behind Max. Its that simple. They engineered Checo out of victory. Checo is very smart though. He’s not as foolish as Ricciardo. The choice is simiple: Be Max’s lap dog and compete at the front of the grid or throw your career away like Ricciardo searching for greener pastures.

      1. I don’t agree that they didn’t want to let Perez win. But as he is behind and logic says he will not be challenging LeClerc for the title (as Max is almost always a bit faster) they maximised the championship result for both drivers and the team. Checo did score 19 points. Max will have a good run at the title of things go right with reliability.. Perez might have a slim chance, but realistically even without team orders he would lose out. So support the fastest driver instead of fighting eachother makes perfect sense.

      2. Checo’s chance for victory was gone on the early stages when Max couldn’t pass Rus and Checo had better tires yet RB kept Checo behind Max. The other 2 instances later in the race are consequences of the first, so for the later part of the race Checo’s strategy was already compromised and it made sense to let Max (faster) pass – I think Max would had passed Checo anyways as he is faster – .
        But it is good to see that Checo is not OK to just play wingman and aims for race wins and at this early stage of the season even try fighting for the top, so RBR should be happy to see that.
        I think at this stage of the season Checo is only 1 race win away from taking the lead if Lecrerc and Max DNF (or take each other out) so we could see why the push and frustration today.

        1. I do wonder, not that this is at all replicable / scientifically possible. What if 2nd drivers ran their own races? And how would history be different if the Barrichello, Coulthards, Bottas’ of the world didn’t do as they were told. I recently rewatched the late 90’s and you’d be surprised how often Coulthard is well ahead of Hakkinen and Schumacher, how many world championships would be different? Moss famously gave up his car, so that’s probably one. Obviously a lot of drivers would’ve been out of a drive the next season, so I guess we will never been able to equate it.

      3. I understand the feeling but this is a sports competition. Given how close it was in points last year it would be sub optimal for a team to do anything else. They’d be robbing themselves.

      4. No way Ricciardo is foolish. He is champion material in my view. Just needs a good car. I would have done the same as him in his shoes. I rate him better than Perez. I like Perez but I don’t think he can beat Max.

        1. @m47e57 Ricciardo can’t beat Norris in the same car, what makes you think he can beat Verstappen?

          1. You know, I can’t explain it but I think the talent is there. I think he is better than Norris too. When it came to Verstappen I think the difference there was not so clear. Both looked to be at a similar level but Red Bull still favoured Max.

          2. Davethechicken
            24th May 2022, 13:08

            You have a short memory. Riccardo scored, more points, more wins and more poles than Max during their time as teammates at RBR.

      5. Señor Sjon
        23rd May 2022, 10:33

        In the end, Perez was 11 laps behind Russell at the start. Verstappen had his slide in lap 9 and was behind both for a while. Perez still not overtaking. Max stopped in lap 13.

        The second time around, Perez wasn’t exactly pushing the matter, keeping a 1,5-2 second distance. That only lasted 2 laps before Verstappen pitted again. So what is this talk about winning? The race winning move for Perez could have been anywhere between laps 1-11 and he didn’t do it.

    2. With Perez being off the pace in every GP, including the Spanish GP there’s no logic in Verstappen ‘wasting’ time behind his team mate due to DRS issues. Perez struggled to get passed Russell with DRS, Max was potentially much faster, but struggled with Mercedes surplus of top speed without DRS.

      The first order was logic as RBR did not know Max DRS was broken. The second was maybe even more logic as Verstappen closed in at 1.5 sec/lap… getting into a fight with a possible DRS malfunction would have allowed Russell to close in again.

      I know people love to make a story out of it, but for RBR this was a no-brainer, Perez was also quite realisitc about it during the post race interviews. Sure he prefered to win, but even Perez can not deny Verstappens pace is simply much better.

    3. There is nothing to discuss. The team told him to disappear into the distance or give the place if he comes close. He gave the place with a 0.3s difference. He most likely wouldn’t have held off Verstappen ven with crippled DRS. He was too quick.

      > 2s offset to Verstappen in reds
      > 1.5s when in mediums 8 laps older.


    4. But Perez did fought back at Russel pretty well and gained the position. I think redbull was being unfair to Perez. He also racing for victory as well , obviously. I think Perez deserved that victory

  2. Hard to make an argument for Perez here. He’s consistently slower than not just Verstappen, but also LEC. Add Sainz to that when he isn’t taking himself out of competition, and now with the Mercedes’ in the mix again, why would he get priority over the guy that’s legitimately the WDC contender, who with a win thanks to Charles’ misfortune was able to take the lead with a few points margin to boot.

    I get it’s a bitter pill, but he surely knows what he signed up for here. You prioritize the WDC contender in a tight battle, always.

    1. I disagree. This is motor racing (remember red bull pleading with the race director to “let them race”?) Now team orders are a necessary the season progresses but this early in the season we should see teammates race with reasonable parameters. Perez was far faster at the point he requested to be let through and should have been allowed to. If he had he may well have won the race. The problem is that Max is only a team player when the team member he is up against is letting him past…

      1. You clearly don’t want to remember Bahrein 2018 when valtteri race was sacrificed with a long stint to slow down vettel

        1. Stint 1 Stint 2
          Sebastian Vettel Super soft (18) Soft (39)
          Valtteri Bottas Super soft (20) Medium (37)
          Lewis Hamilton Soft (26) Medium (31)

          I’ll just leave this here……

          1. I think he probably got the race and situation wrong, I remember something about china, pretty sure it was also in 2018, where bottas was driving very well and was ahead, and I think ferrari left raikkonen out with old tyres to slow him down to allow vettel to get past, but bottas managed an interesting overtake and kept the lead.

          2. That bahrain race I remember it as vettel saying his tyres were done in the end and he was actually struggling to defend from bottas, the only way he made it is that bottas isn’t known to be a good overtaker.

          3. @esploratore1 Given that @f1-ploss has blown one idle conjecture out of the water, I think a bit more proof is needed than just ‘I remember something’, ‘pretty sure’ and ‘I think’!? Maybe some facts?

            Red Bull are built around one talent, Max Verstappen, in a way similar to Schumacher and Ferrari. I don’t think Mercedes have the same ethos from the season outset. Rosberg and Hamilton were treated as equally as you can get. It’s plausible Mercedes/Wolff then decided they wanted a less combative driver to take Rosberg’s place and expected Bottas to cause less internal friction. But he took the lead of the championship various times with no issue. His ‘assist’ duties occurred later in the season – even in the years against a competitive Ferrari. This year it’s plain to see that despite Russell being a young driver and new at Mercedes, he’s on equal terms in the team.

            Of course were Perez suddenly to be faster and start beating Max regularly over a weekend, outqualifying and staying ahead on track, then Red Bull might have to start reevaluating Max’s status as number one. But that’s not going to happen. And you’d need a driver of Russell’s calibre alongside Max to see that (potentially) happen. Which Red Bull will never allow.

          4. @esploratore1 i clearly recall a race in the first four of 2018 where he was used like this, i’ll recheck

  3. there’s enough happiness one can get being relegated to scraps every single time, even when he does a good job.
    Perez is learning that now.

    They telling him he was on a different strategy when both were to go untill the end felt like “you’re not supposed to win this”.

    1. It was pretty nauseating listening to that excuse when they should have just flatly told him to move aside as they clearly wanted him to from the moment they signed him.

  4. We are at this point of a season where it is clear who is #2.

    I bet nobody told Hamilton yet.

    1. @jureo
      Red Bull must be so unsure of their own first driver, since they forbid the supposed second one to compete from day one! :D

      1. For sure, there is nothing certain in this title fight.

        Leclerc is amazing, Mercedes fixed their car, and Red Bull reliability is far from reliable.

        They need all the points they can get, and Verstappen is their best, yet uncertain bet.

    2. Merc doesnt have the wingman strategy of RBR

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        22nd May 2022, 20:21

        No not this year. They’ve got Hamilton’s replacement in the 2nd car instead of a support driver like they had for the last 5 seasons. Once Hamilton retires, I’m sure they’ll bring a support driver in for him because it’s needed in a close title fight.

      2. I don’t think Hamilton would be as complacent as Perez to play second fiddle.

      3. Noframingplease (@)
        23rd May 2022, 7:49

        @romtrain So the first year in 7 years that MB doesn’t have a puppet for your Goat, you come up with this?

        1. Merc usually dont do the wingman strategy. And the teammates of HAM were much less of a puppet than any teammate of VER at RBR.

          RBR does it since many years and Perez is the same like Barrichello was in Schumis times at Ferrari. He will never be alllowed to finish in front of Verstappen.

          1. Noframingplease (@)
            23rd May 2022, 10:44

            @roman Oh that’s alright with me if that’s your opinion, but I think you haven’t seen the last 7 years of F1 races (and especially the role of Bottas at mb) or your bias is too big. Reading you earlier reaction it’s probably the last. Of course this was a wingman strategy, like we have seen the last 7 years at MB.

          2. Yeah, Russia 2017 lol

    3. @jureo Why would Lewis care who is “golden boi” at RBR? It’s always been obvious anyway. But I suspect you are just having a dig.
      Meanwhile MB are allowing their drivers to compete, as they always have, until a championship is at stake. GR is doing great so far, very happy to see it.
      It will be hard for anyone to fight back to challenge RBR and Ferrari, but we will see over the whole season.

    4. Hamilton clearly had the better race setup and the faster car. All things being equal he would i am surly have over taken Russell.. Thanks to Magnuson we shall never know.

      Im guessing Mercedes deliberately had the two cars on different setups and strategy. Whilst Russell got the better position, Hamiton had all things set for a better race. On his harder tires, he would have driven a longer stint, to pit and come out clear of the rest.

      Not only did he nearly get 4th untill until forced to return the positon to Sainz due to ‘sensor’ readings, he also spent the most time in the pits, with that first stint to remove the puncture costing him an extra 10 seconds. That would have easily placed in the top 3, even with the Ferraris in the mix.

      2nd string driver – i think not. He’s just desperately unlucky so far.

      1. Yes, it was indeed impressive by hamilton this time, I was also impressed by russell, but I never thought hamilton would’ve recovered that much, and the car still felt like 3rd best.

  5. Perez is the most obvious of wingmen in history, as every other Verstappen teammate.
    Yet people still go on with the old “valtteri is james” rhetoric, which happens ONCE in five years.

    1. Here’s a top 5 for you;)

    2. @Fantomius why are you so upset? Verstappen had better tires, was a lot faster than Perez, why even think about letting Perez defend? as a team why risk it? it’s stupid.

    3. @liko41 If it’s only happened once in 5 years, how come we’ve all heard it in over 10 races?

    4. Happened many times indeed, to the point when bottas won a race he dared say “james, it’s valtteri!”.

    5. Noframingplease (@)
      23rd May 2022, 8:23

      @liko41, What I said earlier, please don’t teach in history, you are not good at it.

    6. distorted orange reality…

  6. How will this develop in future races?
    Will Sergio refuse to obey team orders? Will Horner have to threaten him in order to comply? Will a “Checo, this is Christian” meme emerge?
    So many questions, so few answers…

    1. Ahah, that meme sounds like it could be interesting!

    2. Noframingplease (@)
      23rd May 2022, 7:53

      @x303 Not in another way you could have seen the last 10 years at MB. No Horner needed for that. Instead of that, praise him like Wolff.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        23rd May 2022, 11:26

        @nofanboysplease It’s just how it is these days – not just in F1 but everywhere in life. People pick their tribe and then look to discredit the opposition. You can load up Twitter and look at any discussion and it’ll be the same. Someone says something and someone will try to discredit them rather than . If they get proven wrong, they’ll throw a strawman argument into the mix to try and win it that way.

        It’s a perfect example of that – you make a point and then someone says “you must not have watched F1 for very long.” Clearly they don’t have a valid point to make so will just look to discredit yours instead.

        It’s hilarious seeing the same people who would have defended Bottas being a support driver suddenly saying how awful it is for Red Bull to do the same thing. They’re the same people who complain about F1 focussing on “the show” but are now suddenly complaining that swapping positions is bad for the show because it validates their argument….

  7. Poor from Red Bull, so early in the season with clearly the quickest car. It’s not like Perez is usually any kind of a threat, but gotta keep golden boy happy, the number 2 driver is expendable as we’ve seen at Red Bull many times now.

    1. Is it really that hard to understand that they’re looking at the points to Charles, not Perez? This isn’t Mercedes 2014 or 2016, where one team can just fight it out amongst themselves and not worry about their lead driver losing a few points here and there.

      Did last season not show you that every single point counts at the end of the season, no matter what number race you obtained said point at?

      They capitalized on Leclerc’s retirement by getting the maximum points for their WDC contender. Imagine calling that “poor.”

      1. @sjaakfoo But why demoralise your second driver so early in the year, when you may *really* need his support later on? If they’d have let Perez win this, Max would still be clear of him, would have still closed up on Charles and the team wouldn’t have been materially affected.

  8. I have a couple of other observations.
    Why are there still problems with Max’s rear wing when there are no problems with Checo’s? I’m guess Max has different/newer technology than Checo just like last year when Max’s rear wing would deflect and Checo’s didn’t.

    According to Christian, Checo’s car was close to failing so he was told to back off on the power. Max’s car, even though Max was pushing harder without DRS, had no such issues. Again, Checo must have a 2nd tier car to Max’s.

    And let’s not forget that Checo had to sit out the first practice this weekend.

    And if we go back to the last race of last year, Checo had to retire the car with one flying lap left in the race because his car wasn’t going to be able to finish 4 safety car and 1 race lap.

    Feel badly for the wingman.

    1. According to Christian, Checo’s car was close to failing

      @jimfromus I wouldn’t quote Horner as an entirely reliable source.

    2. The Dolphins
      23rd May 2022, 4:08

      Good observations Jim, you’re right I feel bad for him as well. I imagine Red Bull’s next contract offer will spell it out very clearly for him.

      1. Damn, again with these number 1 and 2 allegations… if perez had a real chance to outperform verstappen on a regular basis, he WOULD become number 1, as ricciardo did to vettel and then leclerc did to vettel and as russell is doing now to hamilton, I’m not saying hamilton is done, but there were a lot of people saying russel wouldn’t be allowed to compete etc.

        1. …but there were a lot of people saying russel wouldn’t be allowed to compete etc.

          None of them being actual Mercedes fans!

    3. Why did Leclercs car break down and not Sainz. They must favor Sainz! Seriously… it is a technical sport. Sometimes things go wrong. All you can hope is to be lucky its not your car. There is no more to it. Teams get more money if both cars finish.

    4. Marko stated that Checo’s car didn’t bring the newest updates this weekend, only Max’s.