According to AlphaTauri team manager Graham Watson, Red Bull advised Jos Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Snr that they “really had to take a step back” when their sons joined the squad back in 2016.
Jos Verstappen has been close to his son Max Verstappen since the 2021 World Champion initially entered the Formula One grid in 2015 with the Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri which was known as Toro Rosso back then.
Carlos Sainz Sr. on the other hand was very driven and was always on the lookout for his son Carlos Sainz Jr. to be treated the same as his teammate Max Verstappen.
While the Sparniard and the Dutchman’s first season was a big success on the track, there were rumors of tensions between the duo throughout the year.
The team manager, Graham Watson, claims that the pair’s dads actually caused more issues than their sons did.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t experience it that way, although both were very driven and the fathers actually much more,” Watson told the Dutch branch of Motorsport.com.
“Funnily enough, I already knew Carlos Sainz Senior from my time in rallying, so I knew both fathers well.”
“He was extremely driven and always looked a little suspicious if the other driver in the team was getting something his own son didn’t.”
“I remember well that I had a clash with him in Barcelona, which must have been during the winter test of 2016,” the Dutch continued.
“He learned about the way our men worked with the car and [felt] that it wouldn’t be fair at all. Then I was like: ‘hang on a minute,’ and I made it very clear to him that both drivers were getting the exact same treatment.”
“Jos also felt disadvantaged in his own career and certainly thought with Benetton that he was being treated unfairly. I’m not telling any secrets with that, that’s publicly known.
“Max definitely didn’t want that to happen and most of all wanted to beat his teammate. He really has the mentality: I will not allow the team to be built around my teammate, the team will be built around me. Because of my years in the pit box, it may strike me more than others, but I clearly see Jos’s hand in that.”
Watson recalls senior Verstappen having reservations about the team members and publicly expressing those thoughts, believing he knew better and attempting to take control of the situation himself.
“Jos was of course also used to having full control over Max’s career from the karting days,” he added.
“When Max came to us, the team looked different than it does now, less professional. Jos perhaps doubted whether our team was of the level to help his son further in F1.”
“I noticed this especially in the fact that Jos tapped my shoulder every day and asked: ‘Graham, what about this and what about that?’ At one point I had to be a bit blunt and say, ‘For f*ck’s sake, just let the team members do their job.’”