Verstappen says fracture cleared after F1 crash with Perez

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Formula 1 champion Max Verstappen says he has resolved a conflict involving Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and is ready to help him at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen rejected a team order to push Perez through for sixth at the Brazilian Grand Prix last Sunday and said on Thursday his reasons “will remain between the team and me”.

“It was about something that happened earlier in the season and I already explained that (at the previous race in) Mexico and the team understood and agreed,” he said.

“I hadn’t been told anything about a potential swap” of positions ahead in Brazil, he said. “I think they should have already known my answer from what had been said the week before.”

Since then, Red Bull has held talks to clear things up between the drivers, Verstappen said.

It has long since wrapped up its second world championship and Red Bull sealed the constructors’ title. The team wants to earn second place in the standings for Perez ahead of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. Verstappen has indicated that he would be willing to help in Sunday’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.

“As a team we have never finished first and second. So if we can achieve this, it would be great,” Verstappen said. “And, for sure, if there’s an opportunity to help, as a team, you know, we’ll do it.”

Red Bull defended Verstappen as “an open and fair team player”.

“As a team we made mistakes in Brazil,” Red Bull said in a statement.

“We hadn’t anticipated the situation that occurred on the last lap and we hadn’t agreed on a strategy for such a scenario before the race.

“Unfortunately, Max was only informed at the last corner of the request to relinquish the position without all the necessary information being passed on. This put Max, who has always been an open and loyal team player, in a compromising situation with little time to react, which was not our intention.”

Red Bull said it accepted “Max’s reasoning” about the crash and condemned the abusive comments on social media aimed at both the drivers and their families and the team.

“Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members are deplorable,” Red Bull added. “We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work and enjoy our sport. The abuses must stop.”

Asked if the abuse ever led him to question his future in F1, Verstappen said: “It’s not just related to that, to be honest, but I won’t be here when I’m 40, that’s for sure.”

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