Max Verstappen has insisted that the extra security provided to him and his entourage at the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend is just one example of a regular precaution taken by Red Bull, playing down any potential threat from the home support at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The reigning world champion was met with hostility from a sizeable Mexican contingent at the United States Grand Prix last time out. Swathes of Checo fans booed the Dutchman during the national anthem as he took to the podium following his 15th win of the season.
Another frosty reception is expected for Verstappen in Mexico City on Sunday, and therefore Red Bull have taken the decision to give him bodyguards for this weekend’s visit. Helmut Marko has explained that the 26-year-old is not in favour of the decision in an interview with F1 Insider, but the team are taking no chances.
Speaking about the extra security ahead of Friday’s practice sessions, Verstappen said: “Yeah, I have 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.
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“Last year, it was really, really busy to get from your hospitality to your garage. It just helps to make it all a bit smoother on-track, off-track, travelling from your hotel and stuff like that. [We do it] whenever we think it’s just helping the general flow of the weekend.
“I feel very safe. [On Wednesday] I had a whole marketing day, and it’s been honestly a great reception here like I always had. It’s good to be back.”
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The three-time world champion also addressed the rivalry between him and his Red Bull team-mate. Many of Perez’s fans still hold a grudge against Verstappen after he refused team orders to help the Mexican at the Brazilian Grand Prix last season, and rumours of a rift within the team surfaced again after the wins in Jeddah and Baku.
“Checo and I, we get on really well. For us, I don’t think there is any rivalry,” Verstappen insisted. “Of course as a driver on-track, you always like to be first or to be faster. I think we have a lot of respect for each other, and we appreciate each other’s performances. I think it’s a good thing that it maybe starts here now. It’s not only here.”
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