Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are both seeking to avoid a repeat of the team order row that created a rift between the pair during last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

To aid him in his bid to claim second in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship, Red Bull instructed Verstappen to let Perez through on the final lap, to which the Dutchman refused.

The reason for Verstappen’s disobedience was never confirmed publicly, but the cause was understood to be a result of his belief Perez purposefully held him up in qualifying for that year’s Monaco Grand Prix, which the Mexican went on to win.

With Lewis Hamilton only 20 points away from Perez following the latter’s first-lap exit last Sunday, the two Red Bull drivers were quizzed on the matter on Thursday in Brazil.

“We haven’t thought about it,” said Perez when asked about team orders. “If the situation arises, I’m sure I would have the support from Max.”

Perez seemed deliberately coy on the subject, as did his team-mate, with neither party fully addressing the issue.

“Last year it wasn’t really well spoken about before we got into the race weekend,” Verstappen added.

“Let’s just hope we don’t get into that situation; it is better for everyone.”

Sergio Perez (MEX), Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing 13.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day. –, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

During 2023, there has seldom been a moment where Verstappen and Perez have had a close moment on the track.

Save for the opening few rounds of the season, where Perez and Verstappen traded wins before the Dutchman’s record-breaking run of 10-straight victories from Miami to Italy.

Meanwhile, Perez’s early-season thoughts of a title challenge faded and the Mexican has endured a season of poor qualifying performances, blighting his race performances in turn.

Despite retiring from his home grand prix last weekend after contact at the first corner, Perez remains confident that he can bounce back at Interlagos.

“I took a gamble and it didn’t pay off but I had to, to make sure I hold my head high because I gave it all through the weekend and the fans were amazing also after the event with so much support and also the team was super supportive,” he explained.

“So, yeah, it helps that we are back here in Sao Paulo.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to show how strong I am mentally and how can I think as an athlete, you always have these sorts of moments.

“But the most important thing is how you overcome them and how you recover from them.”

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