Christian Horner weighs in on Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez team orders in Baku

Chris Evans says Max Verstappen needs to 'be a bit nicer'

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Christian Horner has suggested that Red Bull telling Sergio Perez not to fight with Max Verstappen “wasn’t strictly team orders”. With both drivers battling for the F1 world championship, team orders were used as early as the Spanish Grand Prix as the Mexican was told to stay behind the Dutchman.

The 32-year-old branded the call “unfair”, but he turned the tables on his teammate with a victory in Monaco. That had Horner insisting before the start in Baku that Red Bull would not use team orders, saying the drivers must work as a team to beat Ferrari.

But this weekend, Perez overtook Leclerc at the start but was told not to jostle with the world champion, who had the quicker car and eventually breezed past him. Horner meanwhile, says that order cannot be classified as team orders.

“I think today wasn’t strictly team orders,” he told on Sunday evening. “It was just a question of you’ve got a faster car and a slower car and Max had a significant pace advantage on Checo at that point, and Checo had quite heavy graining on his tyres.

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“So it was a question of ‘guys, let’s not put each other against the pit wall here if one car is quicker…concede and let’s focus on getting the best result for the team’.” Horner praised Perez, who is trying to win his first world title, for adhering to the instructions and claimed the right call was made in that particular scenario.

“I think Checo, he’s a mature guy and he gets the bigger picture and that it’s a long championship,” the team principal added. “He’s in the form of his career off the back of Monaco and his qualifying performance here.

“I think maybe, with the benefit of hindsight coming into this weekend, perhaps there was too much weight put behind his qualifying set-up with the rear deg he experienced. So that’s something to look at because Max was certainly in better shape in the race than Checo at the back end of that first stint.”

The Azerbaijan GP ended with Verstappen starting from third place but he ultimately managed to take the chequered flag after both Ferrari drivers were forced to retire with separate mechanical problems.

It was heartbreak for Charles Leclerc, who was over 40 points clear of Verstappen after the first three Grands Prix of the year but now finds himself adrift of both Red Bull drivers in the standings after experiencing plenty of bad luck over the last few weeks.

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