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Herbert Labels Verstappen's Move in Austria 'Intimidation'

Herbert Labels Verstappen’s Move in Austria ‘Intimidation’

03/07/2024

The FIA faced limits in penalizing Max Verstappen in Austria, with Herbert decrying the move as ‘intimidation’.

By imposing a 10-second penalty on Max Verstappen for unsportsmanlike conduct against Lando Norris in Austria, did the stewards go too easy?

While Lando Norris had to retire, the Red Bull driver crossed the finish line in 5th place, increasing his lead by 10 points over the McLaren F1 driver. Max Verstappen also lost two points on his license.

However, the stewards were constrained by the scale of penalties in the regulations.

This was clarified by Johnny Herbert, who was the FIA ‘driver-steward’ at the last Grand Prix (alongside Felix Holter, Matthew Selley, and Wilhelm Singer.)

“When we reviewed the race, we immediately questioned who was at fault – and it was Max…”

“This is the harshest penalty that can be applied according to the FIA guidelines that we enforce as stewards. McLaren said it should have been tougher, but that’s the game all teams play.”

“If someone had rolled on the track, I don’t know if it would have changed anything. The fact of forcing a driver off the track or causing an incident is why he was penalized. It was the maximum penalty we could impose.”

Only one driver has received a heavier penalty for on-track behaviour this year: Fernando Alonso, who was given a drive-through for “potentially dangerous” driving (he had suddenly slowed down in front of George Russell at the last Australian Grand Prix, with the penalty applied after the race). But it was not a similar incident to that at the Red Bull Ring.

It’s worth noting that Carlos Sainz was given three penalty points for his collision with Fernando Alonso in the sprint race in China. In contrast, Max Verstappen received two in Austria.

Nevertheless, Herbert is aware: this is not Max Verstappen’s first incident of this kind. The former Stewart driver even uses the term intimidation…

“Max is at fault. He’s a tough racer. He’s very, very tough to beat. He intimidates everyone. This intimidation is something Lewis, Michael Schumacher, and Ayrton Senna have always done…”

“Lando did the right thing. He didn’t move. He didn’t have to. Some said he could have moved. But that’s not how you beat Max or win the Grand Prix.”

Is Max Verstappen not going to change his approach, according to Herbert? The steward then makes a surprising response…

“It’s deliberate on Max’s part, that’s why I use the word intimidation, he pushes to the limits without getting into trouble. But this has always been the case in his history. We reminded everyone of what Max is capable of.”

“Will he change? No. That’s not his way. And he’s right not to…”

“But I think he needs to temper himself a bit.”

“It won’t change his way of racing. No driver before him, like Michael Schumacher, has ever changed their approach. And I don’t want him to. I find it very exciting. It’s just that when he gets there, he can only blame himself.”

In summary, Herbert finds “very exciting” dangerous behaviour on track that he penalized! Is the world upside down?

Herbert Labels Verstappen's Move in Austria 'Intimidation'

FIA Limits on Verstappen’s Penalty Spark Debate. FIA Limits on Verstappen’s Penalty Spark Debate

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