Perez to Mexican fans: Show Verstappen respect

Max Verstappen overtakes Lando Norris for the lead (0:30)

Max Verstappen cuts inside Lando Norris to take the lead on Lap 28 at the United States Grand Prix. (0:30)

  • Reuters

Oct 26, 2023, 07:07 PM ET

Sergio Pérez called on his Mexican fans to send a positive message to the world at his home grand prix by showing respect for Formula One rivals and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

The Mexican driver, second in a championship already won by Verstappen for the third year running, emphasised the slogan of a local #racepect campaign in saying what happened on track must stay on track.

“I think it’s important that we give this message because I think media likes to create these sort of driver rivalries outside the track,” he told reporters at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Thursday.

“We are a great sport, a great example for a lot of young generations and we should just be focused on the sport side.

“Whatever happens on track should always stay there and that’s the best message we as a country want to give to the rest of the world.”

Verstappen has won 15 of 18 races this season, wrapping up his third drivers’ title in Japan last month, while Perez has lost his way.

Although he has a contract for 2024, there has been speculation about his future with Red Bull and what might happen if he fails to secure second place in the championship.

Verstappen was booed after winning in Texas last weekend, with many in the crowd supporting Perez or Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s big title foe in 2021.

The Dutch driver told reporters separately Thursday he had no problems.

“I am just here to do my job and so far the welcome that I’ve got has been amazing,” he said.

Verstappen has won four of the past five Mexican Grand Prix races while the country is still waiting for its first home winner. Perez has managed no better than third.

Red Bull’s Austrian motorsport consultant Helmut Marko riled Mexicans earlier this year when he blamed Perez’s patchy form on his ethnicity and referred to the driver as South American.

Mexican Grand Prix organisers condemned the comments and called for “a more respectful and united Formula One community, encouraging healthy competition both on and off the track.”

Verstappen added: “Of course, it’s always good to support your favourite driver but to have respect for others … while being on the podium when the national anthem is being sung or played.

“It’s quite disrespectful when you start chanting through these moments so that’s why I think it’s good they’re raising awareness.”