Stella questions Horner’s integrity after Norris criticism

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has questioned Christian Horner’s integrity after the Red Bull boss suggested Lando Norris had hoped to cause an incident in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Norris was frustrated with Max Verstappen’s defending during their battle for the lead at the Red Bull Ring, with one attempt to pass seeing the McLaren driver run wide at Turn 3. That was his fourth track limits infringement and was going to lead to a five-second time penalty, with Horner suggesting the contact that followed a few laps later “just felt like he was trying to cause something up at Turn 3.”

It was Verstappen who was penalized for the contact for moving towards Norris on his outside in the braking zone, and Horner’s comments did not go down well with Stella.


“I think this kind of statement is pretty irreceivable [sic], I would say, and to some extent I think it speaks for the integrity of the person that said that,” he told SiriusXM.

Although critical himself of Verstappen’s defensive moves, Stella believes that if race control had stepped in earlier, a collision would have been less likely.

“The whole battle was very entertaining, first of all,” he said. “I think it was great to see this kind of battle for winning a race, and it is a shame that we were not in condition to see this battle going until the checkered flag.

“It was a tough battle — up to a certain point within the rules — but at some stage we started to have maneuvers that would have needed to be addressed right away, so that both drivers knew that ‘we are checking, stay within the boundaries of the regulations.’ And I think in particular, Max should have been informed that some movements during the braking maneuvers were not possible.

“I think from there then there would have been more caution in the maneuver that actually took both drivers off, and unfortunately for our championship also meant that Max was able to come back and score 10 points. So I think the battle itself was great, but the fact that we didn’t address the drivers, I think this meant that it escalated.

“In general, we have so much respect for Max. What he is achieving is unbelievable — he is a great driver. There is no need to defend like this. Sometimes you just have to accept that the car behind needs to have an opportunity, and I think that what would have happened if Lando had passed, then the next lap, with the DRS, Max would have gone for it, and it would have been an incredible spectacle. Which we missed, but hopefully we will be able to see in the future, with regulations that are enforced and both drivers fighting within the regulations.”

However, Stella also says the drivers are smart at operating within the unclear areas of the regulations to give themselves their best chance of success.

“I think there’s a little bit of missed opportunity here, because I think the earlier and the clearest way you can address the way we go racing, the more you will be able to prevent this kind of thing happening,” he said. “But the FIA, the stewards, the race director, they do a tough job. We recognize the difficulties in which they operate.

“They have to monitor, they have to understand what is in the head of the best drivers in the world — these drivers know how to do things, they know how to hide things, and they know how to play with the limits.

“So it’s a tough job for the FIA, the stewards. But I think this is an opportunity to review everything we’ve learned during the weekend and judge how do we rapidly tighten up what needs to be tightened up, so that we can enjoy this kind of racing and hopefully have the cars that are involved in this kind of battling until the checkered flag.”

Story originally appeared on Racer