Verstappen defends decision to defy STR team orders

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Max Verstappen has defended his decision to defy team orders from Scuderia Toro Rosso in the closing stages of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix en route to eighth place.

Verstappen stalled off the line, leaving him in need of a push back to the pit lane where his mechanics restarted the car and sent him out into the race, albeit a lap down on the leaders.

A safety car period allowed the Dutchman to unlap himself before rising back up through the field, running just inside the top ten in the closing stages of the race.

However, he was quickly being caught by teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. on fresher tires, and with a few laps to go, the team gave Verstappen the call to move over and let the Spaniard past so he could try and attack Sergio Perez ahead.

Verstappen reacted angrily to this, though, shouting “no!” back across the radio. The team asked him a second time, but once again he refused. He eventually crossed the line over one second clear of Sainz to finish the race eighth.

“My pace was great and once again I really enjoyed all the overtaking,” Verstappen said after the race. “I don’t think there was any reason for me to give up my position.

“After going from being one lap behind to being back in the points, I think I deserved that P8.”

Sainz was less impressed by Verstappen’s decision, and claimed that he would have given the position back to the Dutchman had he failed to pass Perez if he’d been given the chance.

“After seeing him try to overtake him for 10 laps, I just thought maybe I could try during one lap, and if I hadn’t been able to I would’ve given the position back to Max,” Sainz explained.

“I just wanted my chance, but he decided not to give it to me. It’s something we need to talk about as a team.”

Speaking after the race, team boss Franz Tost backed Verstappen’s decision, saying that Sainz had not got close enough to warrant being allowed to pass.

“At the end of the race, we thought that Carlos would catch Max faster, because he had new option tires on, while Max had fitted used options,” Tost said.

“Therefore, we calculated that Carlos could’ve had a better chance to attack Perez, but he didn’t close the gap to Max well enough to really demonstrate that he could do this, so there was no reason to end up swapping their positions.”