Sergio Perez ‘would have been destroyed’ 20 years ago for helping Max Verstappen

Perez helped Verstappen win the title (Getty Images)

Former driver Juan Pablo Montoya claims Sergio Perez “would have been destroyed” 20 years ago for helping team-mate Max Verstappen win the world title.

Perez led the pack at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a race Verstappen had to finish higher than Lewis Hamilton on to claim the championship. The star held Hamilton off to give the Dutchman time to pit and remain in the race. His help saw him called a “legend” by Verstappen and hailed by many fans.

However, Montoya believes the reaction would have been a lot different two decades ago.

“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.”

While Perez did get a lot of support for his contribution to Verstappen’s first world title, he was also met with criticism. Ex-F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais accused Perez of having “zero sportsmanship”.

He tweeted: “I can’t begin to understand how Perez can be happy with himself and how people applaud him for what he did. Purposely slowing down and using every dirty trick to impede Hamilton. Zero sportsmanship, from the whole team really.

“They completely sacrificed Perez’s race to put him in that position. Losing purposely seconds per lap to impede, look again… he wasn’t trying to stay ahead but only slowing Lewis as much time as possible.”