Max Verstappen has admitted to thinking about his forceful father when Toro Rosso issued team orders during the Singapore grand prix. Told to let his teammate Carlos Sainz past so that the Spaniard on fresher tyres could try to attack the car ahead, 17-year-old Verstappen instantly shouted back "No!"
"He was asked four times to let me go and didn't," Sainz told Spanish reporters afterwards. "That's a little embarrassing. "I felt that I could catch the Force India, but Max made his choice and it was to not listen."
Dutchman Verstappen, however, defended his defiance on the basis that he had worked hard throughout the race for his position, fighting up from dead last. "I didn't see a reason to let him past," he told De Telegraaf newspaper, "and if it was the other way around, he wouldn't have let me past either."
Sainz disputed that, insisting that while he and Verstappen get on well, they are "rivals" that do often need to think above the interests of the team. Verstappen, however, admitted to knowing that if he had moved over for Sainz, he would have incurred the wrath of his feisty father and former F1 driver Jos. "He told me that he would have kicked me in the balls if I had let him past," the teenager smiled.
And ultimately, Verstappen's defiance received the backing of his boss Franz Tost. "Max was right," he said. "If Carlos had been much faster, he would have got closer, but he always remained a few tenths behind. In the end it was therefore the right decision, and that's what I told them."
Tost said he is sure the disagreement will not lead to an escalation of hostilities between Sainz and Verstappen. "I expect absolutely no dispute," he insisted. "Both are professional enough." Verstappen confirmed: "I talked to Carlos and everything is fine. This will not have any major impact." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing