Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Formula 1 Mexico City GP

Bodyguard-protected Verstappen feels “safe” in Mexico amid “made-up” Perez F1 rivalry

Max Verstappen has insisted he feels totally safe in Mexico and said talk of a bitter rivalry with Formula 1 team-mate Sergio Perez is “made-up”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

The three-time world champion is bracing himself for a tough reception from the Mexican fans, with them feeling that he is local hero Perez’s main obstacle to victory. 

After being booed heavily by Perez's fans at the United States GP last weekend, and the Mexico paddock being one of the most packed of the year, Verstappen has been spotted with two bodyguards during his appearances so far. 

But rather than feeling that the bodyguards are required to help him feel safe from a potential fan backlash, Verstappen said it is more about helping make his life easier. 

“I mean, why not?” the Red Bull driver said when asked about having the bodyguards. “I have, of course, a bit more security here. But there are always a few countries around the world where it's very busy, also here in the paddock. 

“For example, last year, it was really, really busy to get from your hospitality to the garage. And it just helps also to make it a little bit smoother on track, off track, travel from your hotel, and stuff like that. 

“[But] I feel very safe. I mean [on Wednesday] I had a whole marketing day, and it's been honestly a great reception here like I always had. So yeah, it's just been good to be back.” 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing and Mascots Fermin La Calaca and Mario Achi

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing and Mascots Fermin La Calaca and Mario Achi

Verstappen’s battle with Perez will be one of the focal points of the weekend, as his team-mate bids to secure what he said would be a dream victory on home soil. 

But while there has been talk of a fractious relationship between the pair of them, Verstappen insists things are very normal between them. 

Asked about talks of an intense rivalry, Verstappen said: “Yeah, that's made up. Checo and I, we get on really well. For us, I don't think there is any rivalry.  

“Of course, as a driver on track you always try to be first or be faster, but I think we have a lot of respect for each other, and we appreciate each other's performances.” 

Mexican race promoters have launched a campaign – called #racespect – to try to encourage better behaviour from fans so drivers like Verstappen are not the subject of abuse. 

Verstappen welcomed the move, as he reckoned that there were places where spectators could improve the way they act. 

“I think it's a good thing that it maybe starts here now, but it's not only here,” he explained. “I think in general, the behaviour of the crowd in some places, I think can be a bit better. 

“For example, in Austin, maybe it was a bit towards me, but in general, I think the behaviour of supporting your favourite driver is fine. But then I think you also have to respect the competition.

"But this is not only in our sport. I think it is a general problem in a lot of sports that I think needs to be needs to be looked at and needs to be improved.”

Read Also:

Verstappen also believed the social media needed to be better regulated to prevent abuse that is directed at drivers there.

“Luckily, I don't spend a lot of time on social media, because it's quite a toxic place,” he said. “People who don't need to show their face or whatever, they can say whatever they want. And again, this is not only in our sport.  

“In a lot of different sports it's the same problem. So I think it needs to be much better regulated, what can be said and done and written to people in general.” 

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Alonso: "Football" mentality not right way to judge Aston Martin's F1 season
Next article FIA closes off backdoor route to obtain rivals’ F1 engine secrets

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe