Max Verstappen’s Austrian GP driving a result of lack of punishment for Lewis Hamilton battles, says Andrea Stella | F1 News


McLaren team principal Andrea Stella says Max Verstappen’s over-aggressive driving against Lando Norris during the Austrian Grand Prix was a consequence of the Dutchman not having been penalised for driving similarly against Lewis Hamilton in 2021.

Verstappen was attempting to hold off Norris for the lead at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday when the pair made contact with eight laps to go, leaving the McLaren with race-ending damage and the world champion to finish fifth after pitting with a puncture.

The stewards issued Verstappen with a 10-second penalty for causing the collision, having decided that he did not leave Norris sufficient room on the outside of Turn 3.

“I see that the entire population in the world would know who is responsible except for a group of people,” Stella told Sky Sports F1.

“But the problem behind it is that if you don’t address these things honestly, they will come back. They have come back today because they were not addressed properly in the past when there were some fights with Lewis that needed to be punished in a harsher way.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Lando Norris was given enough space to avoid crashing into Max Verstappen, while McLaren boss Andrea Stella believes the Red Bull driver was at fault for the incident

“You learn now to race in a certain way, which we can consider fair and square.”

Verstappen made several controversial moves during his hugely intense 2021 title battle with Hamilton, with contact between the pair occurring at Imola, Silverstone, Monza and Jeddah, while the Brit was forced to take evasive action to avoid another collision in Brazil.

Asked by Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz whether he was referring to the Brazil 2021 incident between Verstappen and Hamilton, Stella replied: “Yes, there is many episodes.

“The fact is that we have so much respect for Red Bull, so much respect for Max – they don’t need to do this. It’s a way to almost compromise your reputation. Why would you do that?”

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Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to give his verdict on whether Max Verstappen or Lando Norris was at fault for the crash which saw both of them surrender the chance of winning

With Verstappen finishing fifth and Norris failing to score any points, the former’s world championship lead over the latter at the top of the standings grew to 81 points.

Verstappen is not the first great of the sport to have faced scrutiny over his driving style, with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher having also been criticised regarding several high-profile collisions during his career.

Asked if Verstappen’s style was that of a hard racer that should be accepted, Stella replied: “I think the stewards found that Max was fully to blame in this episode. So it’s not about racing in a drivers’ way, it’s about racing within the regulations.

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McLaren driver Lando Norris was left fuming after his collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen saw him have to retire from the Austrian Grand Prix

“And the regulations must be enforced in a way that is effective, because when a car is out of the race as a consequence of this accident, the punishment needs to be proportionate to the outcome.

“And we had twice before that episode moving under braking. So I think it’s just evident we have to enforce the way to go racing because we want to have fun, we want to enjoy.”

‘No correlation’ – Wolff defends Verstappen

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff disagreed with Stella’s assessment of Verstappen’s driving, arguing it “takes two to tango”.

Wolff was critical of Verstappen’s driving on multiple occasions during the 2021 season, but the Mercedes boss has been on a recent charm offensive with the Dutchman as he attempts to prise him away from Red Bull.

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Highlights of the Austrian Grand Prix from Red Bull Ring

“I don’t think you can take this conclusion,” Wolff said in his post-race press conference.

“It’s been so long, in a way, from our side. We just need to… we’re in a different place today, and I think he is. And it takes two to tango.

“I haven’t seen the race, to be honest. I haven’t seen Lando’s and Max’s race. I haven’t seen how all of that came about. So, I first need to watch it before having an opinion, but I wouldn’t see that as a big consequence of 2021 not having been managed well, to what is happening in 2024.

“I don’t think there’s a correlation.”

F1’s summer triple-header concludes with the big one, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase, with Sunday’s race at 3pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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