Perez impressively held off Verstappen, who charged through from 15th on the grid, to head home another dominant Red Bull one-two in the second race of the 2023 season in Jeddah.
With the recovering Verstappen hunting him down in the closing stages, Perez was briefly asked to slow his pace. But after raising his suspicions about whether his teammate was given the same instructions, the Mexican was told he was free to push to the end.
Perez and Verstappen were embroiled in a team orders row at last year’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, which led Red Bull to admit the incident was a team mistake in an attempt to prevent any tension between their drivers spilling over into this season.
Red Bull team principal Horner clarified his side’s stance on team orders after Sunday’s grand prix, revealing all possible scenarios were discussed in a pre-race briefing.
Asked if Perez was happy with Red Bull’s decision not to call off the race in the final few laps, Horner told Sky: “I don’t think he wanted that answer!
“We’ve got a great car and two great drivers – we talked about it in the briefing earlier today ‘you’re free to race, but you keep it clean’ – but they’re both competitive.
“Checo, that was I think his greatest Grand Prix.”
On Red Bull’s second straight one-two, Horner added: “The team, all credit to them, have built an incredible car.
“We thought we had an issue with Max, checked the data and then they were hard at it again.
“They were both pushing hard and Max got the fastest lap of the race, but what a weekend for him – no fault of his own yesterday with the driveshaft, 15th, he was patient, he picked the cars off – so a phenomenal recovery from him.”
Horner said Red Bull were unsure if Verstappen’s late issue was a reoccurrence of the driveshaft failure that ruined his qualifying.
“We don’t know it was the driveshaft today,” Horner explained. “He heard a noise, he reports that and you immediately think of the failure yesterday.
“He reported a high-pitch noise at high-speed. So we check all the data, in Milton Keynes as well, looking at all the channels we have and we couldn’t see anything.
“Something like that, at that stage, could be catastrophic, but we looked at the data and saw nothing so said to the drivers ‘free to go’.”