Andrea Stella doubts Horner’s honesty after Norris’ criticism.

Andrea Stella doubts Horner’s honesty after Norris’ criticism.
Andrea Stella doubts Horner’s honesty after Norris’ criticism.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has cast doubt on the honesty of Red Bull boss Christian Horner after suggesting Lando Norris intended to cause an incident at the Austrian Grand Prix. Norris had expressed frustration at Max Verstappen’s defensive tactics during their battle for the lead at the Red Bull Ring. One of Norris’ attempts to overtake led to him going off track at Turn 3, resulting in his fourth track limits violation and a five-second penalty. Horner suggested that subsequent contact between the drivers “looked like he was trying to cause something at Turn 3”. Verstappen was eventually penalised for moving into Norris on the outside under braking, and Stella was left unsatisfied with Horner’s comments.

Stella responded: “I find this kind of statement quite unacceptable, I would say, and to some extent I think it reflects on the credibility of the person who made it,” during an interview with SiriusXM. While Stella also criticised Verstappen’s defensive manoeuvres, he believed that if race control had intervened earlier, a collision could have been avoided.

“The whole battle was very entertaining, first of all,” Stella commented. “It was fantastic to witness such fierce competition for victory in a race, and it is unfortunate that we were not able to witness this battle all the way to the chequered flag. It was a challenging battle, within the confines of the rules, to a certain extent. However, at some point we began to witness manoeuvres that required immediate attention, so that both drivers knew that ‘we are watching, stay within the confines of the regulations’. In particular, Max should have been informed that certain movements during braking were not permitted.

“From that point on, there would have been more caution in the manoeuvre that ultimately sent both drivers off the track. Unfortunately, for our championship and also for Max, it allowed him to recover and score 10 points. The battle itself was fantastic, but the failure to tackle the drivers made the situation escalate. Overall, we have immense respect for Max. His achievements are extraordinary and he is a remarkable driver. There is no need to defend yourself in that way. Sometimes, you just have to accept that the car behind deserves a chance. If Lando had overtaken, then on the next lap, with the DRS, Max would have tried, which would have resulted in an incredible spectacle. Unfortunately, we missed that, but we hope that in the future we will witness such battles within the limits of the imposed regulations.”

Stella also acknowledged that the drivers are adept at exploiting the grey areas of the regulations to maximise their chances of success. “I think there is a missed opportunity here because the sooner and more clearly we address our approach to racing, the better we can prevent incidents like this,” he explained. “However, the FIA, the stewards and the race director have a difficult task. We recognise the difficulties they face. They have to keep an eye on and understand the mindset of the world’s best drivers. These drivers know how to manipulate situations, hide their intentions and push the boundaries. It’s a tough job for the FIA ​​and the stewards. However, this situation presents an opportunity to review what we have learned over the weekend and determine how we can quickly improve the areas that need improvement. In this way, we will be able to enjoy this type of racing and witness cars involved in battles to the chequered flag.”

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