Thursday’s press conference ahead of Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix heated up as Max Verstappen defended his decision to ignore team orders in Brazil and slammed media reports and abuse widespread online.
The two-time world champion refused instructions from Red Bull to give way to team-mate Sergio Pérez, who is battling for second place in the drivers’ standings. Verstappen hinted the reason was due to an incident earlier this year, but he did not reveal further details.
The 25-year-old told Abu Dhabi that the team ‘had a bit of a misunderstanding’ in Brazil, revealing that ‘on Saturday and Sunday nothing was told to me about a potential swap deal or anything. that is”. It wasn’t until that last lap that it was said on the radio and I think they should have known my answer by now from what I said the week before.
He later added, “I think what we’ve learned from that is that we need to be a little bit more open and we just need to communicate better with each other.” Verstappen then called out media reports and how the radio row was covered, highlighting how online abuse began to be directed at his family.
“After that race I looked very bad in the media, but they didn’t have a clear picture,” Verstappen said. “To immediately put me down like that is ridiculous to be honest because they don’t know how I work in the team and what the team appreciates about me. So everything I’ve read is pretty disgusting.
“More so, they started attacking my family. They were threatening my sister and my mom, my girlfriend, my dad, and for me that goes way too far when you don’t even have the facts about what was really going on and it definitely needs to stop. If you have a problem with me, that’s fine, but don’t sue my family because that’s just not acceptable.
The Dutchman later added: “I just don’t understand why people don’t have the full picture to start attacking me like that. I hope one day they will really understand what was going on, because it’s just unacceptable behavior. Also in this paddock, to be honest. Not just the fans but a lot of people, what they wrote about me is ridiculous.
The media then asked, again, what the full picture was, but like Red Bull’s statement and Pérez’s comments during his interviews, the team plan to keep those details internal. He said at one point, “It’s incredibly disappointing that, even if you don’t know all the facts, people write so many bad things right away. I don’t know why, but at the end of the day, you’re contributing to all social media problems by writing this stuff.
When asked why he wouldn’t set the record straight, Verstappen repeated that what happened would stay with the team, but added: “You don’t know the real story, you so don’t need to write the story. But I’m just a little tired of all this bull—-, which spins all the time.
“As soon as there’s something negative that needs to be pointed out, and it’s kind of sickening, to be honest, to be a part of it. When at the end of the day, I don’t even have anything It’s just that people misunderstood what was really going on.
Verstappen was then asked if he pays attention to what the media writes or what is said on social media, and if it gets to him and how he tries to block it. The 25-year-old has revealed how far online abuse has gone.
“Well, when your own sister writes to you that it’s getting way too heavy and you have to do something, I think that says enough. So, yeah, it gets to me because you can’t attack my family,” he said.
What Verstappen addressed is a recurring theme within Formula 1, particularly this season, as the sport, teams and drivers have repeatedly condemned fan abuse and harassment since the Austrian Grand Prix. Since then, Lando Norris has talked about death threats and online abuse he received, Verstappen and AlphaTauri condemned the abuse directed at Hannah Schmitz, Red Bull’s senior strategy engineer after the Dutch Grand Prix and Alpine recently released two different statements condemning online abuse. One was ahead of the Mexico Grand Prix in terms of online abuse directed at FIA commissioner Silvia Bellot following Fernando Alonso’s penalty debacle, and tThe team released another statement last weekend after the hateful and toxic comments made following the sprint race.
Red Bull also condemned widespread abusive comments towards their drivers, their families and the team following Brazil. in a press release on Thursday.
“The events that followed from a social media perspective are completely unacceptable. The abusive online behavior towards Max, Checo, the team and their respective families is shocking and saddening and is something that we as a sport unfortunately have to deal with with depressing regularity. There is no place for that in racing or in society as a whole and we have to do and be better. Ultimately it’s a sport, we’re here to race. Death threats, hate mail, vitriol towards extended family members are deplorable. We value inclusion and want a safe space for everyone to work and enjoy our sport. The abuse must stop. »