Mika Hakkinen Says Intention Of Verstappen’s Defiance Was To Convey A Big Message To Perez.

According to a report by The Race, Mika Hakkinen, a two-time Formula 1 world champion, thinks that Max Verstappen’s defiance of his team’s directives to assist his teammate Sergio Perez conveyed a big message to the Mexican driver.

Verstappen disobeyed orders from his Red Bull team to give Perez the chance to overtake him and grab the sixth position on the last lap of the main event in Brazil to support Perez’s battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for second place in the drivers’ standings.

Verstappen has now faced harsh criticism for not letting Perez pass after the 32-year-old had frequently assisted Verstappen during his two championship-winning seasons. Verstappen, however, claimed that he defied the instruction because of an event that took place earlier in the year.

Although he won’t address it, it is commonly assumed that Verstappen did so because he felt Perez intentionally crashed his car in the Monaco GP qualifying. Perez qualified ahead of Verstappen on the second row as a result of the crash which forced Q3 to be red-flagged and the following Sunday saw him earn the first of his two 2022 Grands Prix wins.

Verstappen was put in a “compromising situation” in Brazil, according to a press release from Red Bull, and the Dutchman condemned the “ridiculous” media coverage that followed the incident as well as the “disgusting” online abuse and harassment that he and his family experienced as a result.

Throughout his career in the sport, Mika Hakkinen was accustomed to following team directions, particularly during his two championship-winning seasons with McLaren and teammate David Coulthard.

Hakkinen said: “We had team orders sometimes when I was racing, when I received team orders before the grand prix even happened, we had a plan to do it in a certain way and for the [different] circumstances.”

“We shook hands and decided if this situation happens in the race we will follow the team orders. We were in a situation where we had to activate these kind of team orders. I was in a better position and David Coulthard wasn’t in a good position but that’s not my problem.

“And talking about Max and Perez, Max is of course like all of those grand prix drivers, he is a racing driver and he doesn’t live in the moment. He’s living in a life where he remembers yesterday and he’s focusing on the future.

“And when there’s a situation in the race track and the team gives him an order to give a chance to Perez to score points. He keeps the positions [as] he remembers that yesterday and Max [told the] team and was like no way, it’s payback time.”

According to Red Bull’s press release, the request was made only on the last lap of the Grand Prix and there was no agreement in place prior to the race. According to Hakkinen, If it had been the case, breaking a pre-race agreement would have been “a bit naughty.”

Verstappen has been accused of being egotistical because he defied the team’s directive, however, Hakkinen said he doesn’t think that it is a proper assessment of the incident. He said: “I don’t think it’s purely that the racing driver is simply so selfish and [thinks], ‘I don’t care’,”

“[He doesn’t think] I just want to get the maximum result and I don’t care about the rest. And I don’t care about my team-mate. I don’t think it’s that. It’s purely about looking back at what has happened this year with him and Checo. He did get a lot of criticism about that but following team orders is a very important factor.”

“At the moment, Max is a double world champion, he’s faster than Checo out there. So a team knows they need this driver called Max. They need him. Checo cannot at the moment win the championship but Max can.”

Hakkinen believes Verstappen was conveying Perez a big message to settle the score, albeit this does not exclude Verstappen from supporting Perez in the season finale. Concerning if Verstappen will support Perez in Abu Dhabi, Hakkinen added: “The last Grand Prix is a different story in my opinion.”

“I don’t think Checo has the position in the team where he could not perform in the same level as Max or going even quicker. It’s also a psychological fight constantly. To be number one, you have to beat me first. Checo has been helping Max in the past and in some grands prix. Now is Max is going to help him in the last grand prix I wonder?

“That’s the future we don’t know what’s going on, what’s positions they start the race and what’s going to develop but if they are in a position that Max can help Checo to get those important points to be in front of [Charles] Leclerc in Abu Dhabi, I’m pretty confident he will help.

“But he has done [what he did in Brazil] now to show Checo also, ‘I remember what you’ve done, so don’t do it twice’.”

In the pre-race press conference, Verstappen stated that if he can, he will assist Perez in accomplishing Red Bull’s first-ever one-two finish in the drivers’ standings.

When Hakkinen served as McLaren’s effective team leader (though informally) in the late 1990s, he occasionally benefited from team orders, including when he was en route to his first Formula 1 win at the 1997 European Grand Prix. He also received some assistance through a deal between team owners Frank Williams and Ron Dennis.

The Finn, who had been engaged in a protracted championship battle with Michael Schumacher up to the very final race of 1998, understood the value of rallying the team to his side of the garage to increase his overall points.

Hakkinen said: “If the team doesn’t support the fastest driver and doesn’t make team orders if you’re first and second, if the team doesn’t transfer these positions the other way around, that is tough,”

“Then you call on the radio, ‘Come on, let my team-mate [let me through] because I’m fighting a championship here’. And our competitors are scoring points nonstop every grand prix. If I don’t win this one, it only gets tougher and harder towards the end of the season, so let me overtake him. Call him!

“But it has not happened in my case in my career and this is something that psychologically eats you, it’s really tough. I understand the team’s purpose is to win races and get maximum podiums and maximum points but you have to look to the future.

“The team has to be very powerful and strong in these areas. And I don’t think it’s about dividing a team different to where it just supports one driver, I think that it has to be recognised that it’s beneficial for the whole team.

“Everybody gets the bonus, doesn’t matter who wins the world championship. Everybody gets a bonus if we win the constructors’ championship. But if we don’t win either of those because we have one driver winning one grand prix and then the other winning the next and then we had a technical problem and competitors scoring points nonstop, it’s no goal.

“It’s quite easy to talk about it, but being there done that and it’s really tough. That’s what hurts, that’s what is really tiring for the drivers.”