McLaren Boss: Verstappen Should Have Been Hit With a Bigger Penalty for Austria Incident

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McLaren: Verstappen Austria Penalties Not EnoughERWIN SCHERIAU - Getty Images

McLaren F1 team boss Andrea Stella has, shall we say, some questions about the officiating in Sunday's electric Austrian Grand Prix. Stella's lead driver, Lando Norris, was forced to retire after late contact with Max Verstappen. Verstappen was deemed responsible — but the penalty of only 10 seconds did not cost the championship leader a single position.

Verstappen came home fifth, still well ahead of sixth-place Kevin Magnussen even after the 10-second time penalty. Since Norris was forced to retire, the McLaren driver actually lost 10 points in the driver's standings on Verstappen. If Norris had simply lifted out of the battle and accepted second without a fight, he would have lost only seven points to a winning Verstappen.

That, Stella says, is part of the problem. In a conversation with Motorsport, Stella notes that the issue actually starts with how Verstappen's first move under braking was enforced. When that move did not elicit a warning, Stella suggests Verstappen was empowered to make another move under braking in the same corner later — which led to the fateful collision


Stella also has issues with both penalties handed out after that hit. Norris was given five seconds for a track-limit violation, taking him over the total needed for a penalty after going off while racing Verstappen. The Red Bull driver, meanwhile, was given just 10 seconds, even though he was assigned blame for causing the crash in the first place. Verstappen fell to fifth when he had to stop for a new tire, but the time penalty did not drop him any further. Norris, meanwhile, was forced to retire.

The bigger issue is the penalty handed to Verstappen. Although the championship leader was hurt by the consequences of the hit itself, the actual penalty handed out for knocking his leading championship rival out of the racedid not even cost him a position on track. Coupled with the retirement of Norris, Verstappen was able to gain 10 points on his rival in the exchange — and pull away to a bigger championship lead.

Stella warns that this could lead to a situation like 2021, where Verstappen and then-rival Lewis Hamilton spent the last few races of the season exchanging big blocks on track until the title was ultimately decided by a controversial mid-race safety car procedure decision. Stella sees this as a sort of battle he would not want to be involved in, adding, "I thought that was not a good point in Formula 1 racing. It might have been entertaining, but not for good reasons."

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