Speaking to ViaPlay, the two-time world champion highlighted the role Valtteri Bottas played alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes as an example. 

Bottas was Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate for five seasons between 2017 and 2021 but was never able to mount a title challenge or pose a serious threat to the Briton. 

Will Lewis Hamilton ever win another F1 world championship?

Instead, the Finn often found himself consigned to a supporting role, aiding Hamilton in his title fights against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 2017 and 2018, and doing similar during Hamilton’s titanic battle against Verstappen in 2021. 

Only in 2019 and 2020 - when Mercedes held a competitive advantage over the rest of the field - did Bottas go up against Hamilton in a head-to-head fight, which he lost in convincing fashion on both occasions. 

“Every year he starts fresh, but after a few races you realise it’s not going to happen again and you accept your role,” Verstappen said. 

“He [Bottas] still finished on podiums, he won a few races and took pole positions.

“You just have to accept that the driver next to you is just a bit better. That’s fine, that can happen.

“It’s important that he accepted it. Some drivers can’t do that and then it goes completely wrong.

“Then they don’t survive for very long. I’m not going to name names, but you have to accept your role. You can’t live in a fairytale world.”

A coded message to Perez? 

Are Verstappen’s comments a thinly-veiled message aimed at Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez

The pair were at the centre of a team orders row in Brazil after Verstappen refused Red Bull’s request to allow Perez to pass him in the closing stages of the Interlagos race in order to aid the Mexican’s bid to take second-place in the drivers’ standings

It was reported that Verstappen’s reluctance to help Perez out was retaliation for Perez costing him pole position - and potentially the win - by crashing in qualifying in Monaco earlier this year. 

Speaking at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen insisted he would not apologise to Perez for their bust-up. 

“It’s not about saying sorry,” Verstappen said to Sky. “It’s more about what happened this year. Something happened. 

“We didn’t communicate well enough to each other and to the team. I gave my stance in Mexico about it. 

“We should have cleared it way sooner, then we wouldn’t have had that issue in Brazil. Like a relationship, communication is key. You always say communication is key in a relationship, and this is like a relationship.”

Red Bull conceded they “made some mistakes” in a statement released in the aftermath of the Brazil fallout that defended Verstappen’s actions