Juan Pablo Montoya says the help Sergio Perez gave Max Verstappen during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would not have been so well received in his day.
The Colombian raced in Formula 1 between 2001 and 2006 and is remembered for some feisty duels with the dominant driver of that era, Michael Schumacher.
There was certainly lots of spirit also in what Perez did at Yas Marina, defending stoutly against Lewis Hamilton for a couple of laps as the Briton’s World Championship tussle with Verstappen boiled up to its climax.
But while the Mexican’s actions have been widely praised, Montoya takes an alternative view – because Perez largely had his team-mate’s interests at heart rather than his own.
In the end, the Red Bull duo were celebrating as Verstappen was crowned champion, with the Dutchman paying tribute to the part Perez had played and believing it had shaped the destiny of the title race.
“It’s funny now how people look at it from that angle,” Montoya told Motorsport TV.
“‘Oh my God, it’s good that Checo got involved and helped Max’. And I think he did a very good job for Max.
“Twenty years ago, if the second driver did that, he would have been destroyed. And if Rubens (Barrichello) ever helped Michael (Schumacher), everyone said ‘oh my God, why are you helping Michael? You gave up a win, a position?’
“And it was a big drama at the time, whereas today they say ‘oh, he helped him, he got in the way and it was good that he did it’. Those are points of view.”
Asked what he thought had changed that outlook during the intervening years, the former Williams and McLaren driver said: “I don’t know, it’s pretty crazy.
“Honestly, I think if you were supporting Max you would think what ‘Checo’ did was sensational because it helped him. But if you were supporting Lewis or you were neutral, you would wonder why he got involved.”
Of the battle with Hamilton, the 46-year-old added: “Yes, you’re trying to race, but racing in a way where you really want to get in the way, and Lewis knows if he goes for it they would crash and call it a racing incident and they (Red Bull) were counting on that.
“Red Bull played all the cards to get it (the title) and in the end they did – luck was on their side. Whether they made the right decisions or not is up to the FIA to analyse.”
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