Red Bull hire bodyguards for Max Verstappen amid fears of hostility at Mexican Grand Prix
Verstappen was booed by fans at the last race in the USA.
Max Verstappen will be accompanied by bodyguards at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has confirmed.
The boos appeared to largely come from Mexican fans who had crossed the border to watch the race, who also chanted ‘Checo, Checo!’ – the nickname of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez – during the podium celebrations.
With the F1 circus now heading to Perez’s home race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, there are fears that there will be even more hostility from fans.
Though there is not too much tension between the two Red Bulls at the moment, the way Verstappen has trounced Perez in the 2023 championship has lead to rumours that the team are looking to replace the Mexican before his contract expires next year.
That news will not have gone down well with his fans, but more notably there is much anger towards Red Bull and Marko himself following his xenophobic comments towards Perez and Mexicans, and the way the team has defended the 80-year-old.
As such, Red Bull have take precautions, with Marko telling F1 Insider that the Dutchman will have a security detail while in the country – against the driver’s wishes.
‘Max doesn’t actually want that and is relaxed. But we have responsibility for him. So we just want to be on the safe side,’ he said.
This news comes after Rodrigo Sanchez, the marketing and public relations director of the Mexican Grand Prix, to be respectful of all drivers on the grid following the events in Austin.
‘He told Esto: ‘Based on what we have seen in several races over the past few years, we have created the #racepect campaign. This is not a message to Mexicans or Mexican fans, but simply a call because we have seen unfortunate statements and attitudes in recent years and during the current championship.
‘I think that if the drivers do not behave like this next to the track, then we, the ones who are not in the car, should take an example from them and not show certain behaviour.
‘Be an example that F1 can live with a lot of passion but also respect and that it can go very well together. Mexico should be a safe country, where every fan from all over the world is welcomed with open arms.’
Perez has himself called on fans to be supportive of Verstappen, saying: ‘I am optimistic for this week, we know what direction we have to take now so hopefully we get to show that.
‘We have a few things to sort out with the car and we should come back stronger. I want Mexico to come out to support the whole Red Bull Racing Team, not just me.’
The 34-year-old has never won his home race, and a victory would almost certainly secure P2 in the standings ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton who is 39 points behind with four races to go following his disqualification from the US Grand Prix.
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