Eddie Jordan believes Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had an ‘agreement’ for the latter to win the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend. Perez comfortably led for the majority of the race and saw off late competition from his Red Bull team-mate to record his maiden race win of the season.
Despite Verstappen’s clear frustration afterwards, Jordan believes the plan had always been that Perez would be allowed to win if he earned pole position and was ahead of the Dutchman in the closing stages of the race.
The 74-year-old was sceptical of Verstappen’s complaint about overshaft. The reigning world champion struggled with the issue during qualifying and subsequently started in 15th place.
“I’m a bit concerned because, under normal circumstances, Max Verstappen would have won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. I think there was an agreement to let Sergio Perez win the race if he had pole and led the race the whole time,” Jordan said.
“What would happen to the team if they didn’t let Perez win? If I was Checo, I would not have let Verstappen pass. I think it was agreed that if Verstappen made it to second and Perez was still first, he would let him win the race.
“Was I surprised to hear Verstappen complain about a driveshaft? No. If you have 15 laps to go and there’s a problem with the driveshaft, then it’s going to break, and you heard the engineers say to Verstappen that the car was fine and under control, I think there was a message there.
“I’m probably trying to see behind the scenes, but I think Verstappen would have won the race if he was allowed to fight for it.”
Jordan’s theory comes despite Verstappen’s obvious frustration over failing to win the race and complete successive triumphs in the opening two weeks of the 2023 Formula One season.
The 25-year-old insisted he was not happy with the issues in qualifying that hampered his performance in the race. He also revealed that he had been allowed to race team-mate Perez.
Verstappen said: “I recovered to second which is good and in general the whole feeling in the team is happy. “But personally I am not happy. I am not here to be second, especially when you are working very hard back at the factory to come here in a good state and making sure everything is spot on.
“When you are fighting for a championship and it looks like it is just between two cars [Verstappen and Perez] you have to make sure the two cars are reliable. We have to do better, absolutely – a cleaner weekend would be nice. We are allowed to race so the best man will finish in front.”