Andrea Stella had some stern words after F1 Austrian GP regarding the clash, as Christian Horner gave his view along with Toto Wolff and Frederic Vasseur.

It was not just Max Verstappen and or Lando Norris reflecting on their F1 Austrian GP clash, their team bosses Horner and Stella too had their fair say on the matter. The Italian brought the topic of 2021 season when speaking to Sky Sports after the race.

He doesn’t want a repeat of 2021 season against Norris and that Verstappen being unchecked for some of his offences has led to him not bother too much about his opponents in the right manner while engaging in a close battle.

Stella explained further to written media where he noted that he hopes the FIA can now put in a stern stop, so that there is no repeat of 2021 happening. Naturally, Horner played down the notion by terming Verstappen as a ‘hard racer’, but the surprise was, Wolff.

Having been at the receiving end of the Verstappen challenge, the Austrian was mellow in this regard and didn’t wished to echo what Stella said by separating the two matters. Staying on the FIA topic, the McLaren chief also talked about track limits situation.

Norris was handed a penalty – which they served before his retirement – after he went off while fighting against Verstappen. That constituted as a track limits offence which Stella hopes can be discussed if that really can be termed as track limits.

Both Stella and Horner further addressed on the divebomb and movement under the braking discussion, while also noted about Verstappen and Norris’ hard style of racing. The inevitable topic of ‘how it affects their friendship’ was touched upon too.

Inevitable clash –

Horner: “It is inevitable given how close they have been racing in the past few weeks. It is a shame, Lando was already on four strikes and he was probably going to get a five-second penalty anyway. It was a racing incident, I thought it was a bit harsh that Max got a 10-second penalty, thankfully it didn’t effect his race, but his race had already been damaged by the puncture that he picked up. Very frustrating but on a day that neither of his main opponents scored, we still took home 10 points in the drivers’, 16 in the constructors’ and I think McLaren only gained two points on us.

Used vs new tyre set, slow pit stop –

Horner: “The first part of the race was going very well, we pulled out a six-second gap in the first stint on the medium tyre and everything was under control. On the hard tyre, with the temperatures due to the cloud cover a bit lower, it meant it became the non-preferred tyre but we still got up to an eight-second lead at one point. By the time they had gone through the traffic it was about 6.5s. We then pitted on the same lap as McLaren and there was a sticking left-rear nut and the gunman had to go on it twice so I think we lost, it was a 6s stop, so we lost 4s. I thought there was a bit of gamesmanship going on with unsafe release point, we’ve seen much close than that in safety cars and whatever else. That was normal. That then put Lando on a fresh set of mediums against a scrubbed set for Max and he got that new tyre advantage, that had they gone out 6s apart, he’d have probably closed the gap but we probably would’ve had enough to manage it in those final laps, with the delta being about two-tenths of a second.

“I think that was tyre offset because first stint, second stint we were absolutely fine, particularly at the end of the stint. So that then puts Lando in the slipstream and he went off, he got a black and white flag, and he then went up the inside of Max and went off so it was the fourth strike that went to the stewards and the likelihood was he was going to get a penalty and I think he knew that. Then the incident at Turn 3, for me when I looked at the replay, it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other. Both racing hard. The pitstop certainly contributed to it [the eventual battle], yes. He [Max] did [struggle] but there was circumstance, tyres scrubbed, that created that offset.”

Style of racing –

Stella: “I think Lando going for the inside, it’s like he goes in a gap that exists, and you’re not [in] condition to make it, you will go long. If he’s really diving, like a bomb, he’s not going to be able to hold the racing line. If he doesn’t hold the racing line, the car that is on the outside is gonna have the inside, he’s gonna accelerate much faster and he’s gonna hold the position. So in itself, the car that is ahead and stays on the outside, it has the operating space to take advantage of the fact that – allegedly – the car is bombing. Okay? Because if the car that is going on the inside is able to hold the racing line then that’s not a bomb drop.

“That’s like car that exploits the limit in a way that allows him to stay on the racing line. So like crossing the lines, I think, it’s one of the most frequent maneuvers in case of overtaking. We have to say that the layout of corner three sort of induce drivers to attempt these kind of maneuvers. But it’s not like Lando was… like bomb means that there’s violence, there’s an explosion, there’s some contact. Nowhere near Lando’s maneuvers were going to cause this kind of outcome. So I think that seems like a colorful excessive description.”

Horner: “He was getting his elbows out and it is two tough racers. It is probably a bit of a hangover from sprint, Max passed him without DRS down into Turn 4, and then he got mugged by his team-mate. So there was probably a little bit of a hangover of that. It was a shame because we had everything under control today and I think the final pitstop put Lando back into contention. Then with the advantage on tyre that he had, that was enough to get him into DRS.”

Movement under braking, hold Norris off –

Horner: “Max is a hard racer and they know that. I think Lando was trying to make up for sprint and it was inevitable that you could see this building perhaps for a couple of races that at some point there was going to be something close between the two of them. Max did four laps on a soft tyre that were all good enough for pole and he won the sprint race convincingly and he had an 8s lead before we had the problem with the pitstop, so I thought we had them covered this weekend.”

Penalty, track limits while fighting –

Stella: “It’s a tricky one, because, if the stewards elected that the 10 seconds was an appropriate penalty, they, to some extent, go by their rulebook. Okay? It’s complex, because sometimes the outcome can be minor. Sometimes it can be big, like in this case, with a car taken out and the other car with a race heavily compromised. I don’t want to make here be in a position where I make everything simple or ‘oh it was clear’… things sometimes are complex, they deserve enough reflection. I think the 10 seconds, as a matter of fact, was ineffective. And we have the driver that we are trying to chase in the classification then gained 10 points. Definitely deserves a reflection. I’m sure the FIA will approach this case, like I said before as an episode, which gives us a richness of cases that should be analyzed and think how do we move forward? Because we don’t want to see another 2021. I thought that was not a good point in Formula 1 racing. It might have been entertaining, but not for the good reasons.

“Look, definitely, this race has given us a lot of good information to fix some of the aspects which are needed to go racing in a way that we can enjoy this kind of battle until the chequered flag, like for me it’s a big shame that we didn’t see the last six, seven laps, because they would have been quite entertaining. And they are not entertaining because simply the rules were not enforced. It would have been enough to give Max the warning, like a white and black flag, don’t do it again. And it would have been much more prudent in closing the door on Lando. When it comes to track limits – I think if the track limit is because you’re trying to overtake somebody and you lock a little bit – then I’m wondering what kind of racing are we going to have, if this is enforced in this way, because drivers will not even attempt to overtake, because ‘oh, it will cost me one of the three strikes I have available’. But this one I think can be easily resolved. We are not upset about this. It’s we think is wrong. But it’s important that it’s addressed for the future, because we want to see a distinction between track limits that are genuine, because you’re trying to take an advantage in terms of racing line, and track limits that come with a big loss of advantage because you went off and they have to do with the racing maneuvers that we all enjoy. And that’s why we are here in our own jobs, because that’s the racing we like.

Horner: “Whether it should be or not is another subject but the reality is that today it is the rule. Max got one strike for track limits which was that one that would’ve been Lando’s fourth, he had the black and white flag so they would’ve had no choice but to give him a five-second penalty which was why he was arguing, he’d been pushed off, which he hadn’t, he had gone straight on.”

2021 thoughts –

Stella: “I think that’s it. In every kind of human dynamics, if you don’t address things, as soon as you introduce competition, assuming to introduce, a sense of injustice, or I said… these things escalate. It’s like, and I think here there was incomplete job, let’s say, that comes from the past. And there’s a legacy that as soon as there was a trigger, immediately, outburst it, if you say like this in English, immediately became a case that escalated. So I think this one, like I said before, this episode today should be taken as an opportunity to tighten up, to clamp up the boundaries and, in fairness, enforcing some of the rules which are already in place. But we need to be very clear that these rules cannot be abused in a way that then it leaves margin to do a couple of times the same maneuver and you know what, the third time, there’s gonna be an accident.

“Of course, even statistically, there’s gonna be an accident. So, like I say, there’s obviously frustration for. But for me, what’s important is that this is now taken as an opportunity for the FIA, for the sport so that we can in the future, hopefully, enjoy more of these battles, which means that McLaren is in condition to race Red Bull, but knowing that this is not going to end up with a collision or with, you know… for us this [is] a lot of points gone. And a victory, which I think Lando deserved to have the opportunity to have. It could have been, you know, Max. It could have been Lando. That’s racing. But racing like the collisions we don’t like it.”

Horner: “There was some close racing at the beginning of 2022 with Charles. But probably since then. But this year he has had to fight for every victory, or certainly his last three, but that is Formula 1. That is the way this sport is. I think cruising off into 25s leads are abnormal.”

How Norris, Verstappen took –

Stella: “I think, we talked with Lando, I saw his comments. I think he said the right things in saying it’s a great battle, but there’s no need to act so desperately. Okay? Like there’s no need to think that the world is gonna finish if the overtaking minute maneuver by the car behind me is going to be completed. Max, you will have your own opportunity. It is not going to finish the world now if he makes it deserving to make it. Like just, that’s the kind of message and for us we would like to hope that that’s the case in the future. It’s, yeah, I would like to, yeah, don’t add any more.”

Horner: “You’ve spoken to him when he’s had a tough race. The strategy that we were looking at before going into the race was medium-hard-hard and if you look, what I think he is talking about is the point at which we stopped at the second pitstop because we extended to cover Norris but while we were quicker than Norris it makes sense to do that because if you get unlucky with a safety car then you lose track position. Therefore, while we had the pace on Lando and were able to be maintaining and pulling a gap, sometimes tactically it makes sense to do that. Probably, we’d have been better off with a new medium versus a new hard but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The pace of the car has been very strong this weekend and we’ve had two poles, he’s led all but nine laps of the race, the sprint race yesterday, he’s extended his lead I the championship, we’ve extended our lead in the constructors’ championship, so despite not getting the win it is has not been totally disastrous.”

Friendship –

Stella: “I hope that’s not going to be the case. Obviously, when there’s a rivalry in professional sport, at the pinnacle of sport, under the pressure that this guys, experience, it’s always going to be a bit on the edge in terms of the implication for the human relationships. But if the drivers were able to show respect, and if the drivers were able to show integrity, and if the drivers were able to say, “Apologies, I overcooked it, I close to much, I collided. My apologies”. – I think the human relationship can continue. And actually you will gain if anything even more respect, because you can see he is a tough contender, but at the same time, he can be somebody that can apologise. Like, I think it won’t be necessarily dependent on the outcome of the incident. But it will be more dependent on the values that you deploy before, during and after, throughout the experience as a driver. So I don’t think this is compromised. But this is a case in which somebody will have to apologise.”

Horner: “Maybe they won’t play paddle tomorrow! But I am sure they will talk about it. They are two hard racers and they will talk about things openly. I have got no doubt about that. There are relationships between drivers that vary up and down the grid and ultimately there is a respect which is the most important thing and inevitably friendships are put under pressure when you are competing hard.”

F1 rivals speak –

Vasseur: “First, when I’m on the pitwall, I have the layout of the track with dots, and I don’t watch the video on the TV. It means that I had a quick replay after the race. Let me have a look, you will have, I think, thousands of times of the opportunity to ask the question in Silverstone. But honestly, I think it’s an incident now to see if the responsibility is on Max or Lando or whatever. Let me have a look first before making any comment.

Wolff: “Obviously, you see these two at the front driving each other hard. We know they are really good friends and that was always – that was fun to watch. That is how I perceived it at that stage. Then it got a bit more fierce and at a certain stage, we said it would be possible that they would collide and then it happened, both of them with a puncture and we couldn’t believe it when we saw it. You cannot take this conclusion [from 2021].

“It has been so long that, in a way, from our side, we are just in a different place today and I think he is. It takes two to tango. I haven’t seen Lando and Max’s race, I haven’t seen how all of that came about, so I need to watch it before having an opinion. But I wouldn’t place that as a big consequence of 2021 not having been managed well to what happens in 2024. I don’t think there is correlation.”

Here’s what happened:

Here’s Sergio Perez, Oscar Piastri, Charles Leclerc on Lap 1

Here’s Max Verstappen, Lando Norris on their Austrian GP hit

Here’s how F1 Austrian GP panned out

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