Red Bull ‘can’t be angry’ with Verstappen ignoring orders despite penalty threat

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Verstappen crushed the field with a dominating lights-to-flag victory in Barcelona on Sunday to claim his fifth win in seven races so far in 2023.

After being black-and-white flagged for three track limit violations at Turn 5, Verstappen ignored several warnings from his team to claim the fastest lap bonus point in the closing stages of the race.

One more breach would have seen the two-time world champion handed a five-second penalty, although it would have had no impact on his race given he finished 24 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton .

“We didn’t want him to set the fastest lap,” said Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko.

“You just can’t stop it. He had already had three warnings for the runway limits.

“You really don’t risk anything in such a situation anymore. But you can’t be mad at him.

Explaining why Red Bull didn’t want Verstappen taking unnecessary risks, team principal Christian Horner told Sky: “He and his engineer have a relationship like an old married couple.

“You could hear them talking on the radio, almost like we were arguing on which channel should we watch.

“Having had three strikes, the next one was a time penalty and if there had been a safety car or something like that it could have been extremely painful.

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“The engineer is trying to deal with Max and say, ‘Don’t take any risks, take him home and keep him between the lines’. Max, I think he wasn’t aware he was overstepping the limits and he just wanted that extra point for the fastest lap.

Horner added: “Of course we will talk about it – in a situation where there is more to lose than that, we would talk about it very strongly.

“All we can do is pass on the information and what he chooses to do with that information is in his control.”

Verstappen, who now holds a 53-point lead over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in the Championship, played down his inability to follow team orders.

“Well, I kept it in the white lines, I just went a bit faster on the lap. So I didn’t do anything wrong,” he argued.

“They don’t know how long I have in the car, okay, when they tell me it’s the fastest lap, don’t worry, but I knew I could do it.

“So yeah, I just had to keep it in the white lines, but it’s something I think we can laugh about already.

“I was laughing about it with Helmut after the race, so I’m sure they’re pretty happy.”

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