Sergio Perez praises Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen at Abu Dhabi: Max did a great job for me

Sergio Perez paid tribute to his team-mate Max Verstappen after a difficult week for the Red Bull pair.

Last weekend at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, the world champion refused to cede his position to help the Mexican’s bid for second place in the drivers’ championship, and then would not illuminate his reasons for doing so.

Perez was clearly frustrated with his stablemate in the aftermath and Verstappen and the world champion’s mother intervened in the argument, as did the Austrian team.

However the pair will now start alongside one another for the final race of the season, with Verstappen in pole and Perez alongside him.

Naturally there will be speculation about a renewed problem between them, but Perez did not appear to anticipate any negativity carrying over into the last weekend of the season.

“It’s a good starting place,” Perez said. “I didn’t make that final step in Q3, especially the first run wasn’t that good, so we were a bit behind. It’s good to lock out that front row for tomorrow.

“Max did a great job also for me, we worked together as a team really strongly on that final run.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, which is the day that really matters.

“I think it’s going to be a very interesting one, given how strong Ferrari will be, and Mercedes.”

Verstappen also appeared to be in a more conciliatory mood.

“It was a bit of an up and down qualifying. It started off quite well,” he explained. “Q2 was a little bit messy. I don’t know why but on those tyres I couldn’t get the grip together.

“But then in Q3 it all felt a bit more normal. We had a bit of a scare, the car turned off before the first run, so we had to reboot everything. Then we went out and both of the laps were good enough.

“I’m very happy that both cars are on the front row, because of course we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Checo in the championship, so that’s definitely a great start before tomorrow.

“It always sounds great. For sure today was amazing, I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow, but at least we have both cars there and we can do what we want.”

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