Max Verstappen has come in for much criticism following his aggressive driving at Spa, but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner doesn’t think that he went too far.
The Dutchman was involved in a first-lap coming together with the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, with all three drivers needing to pit for repairs as a result of the incident. Verstappen and Raikkonen tussled later in the race too, with the Finn questioning whether Verstappen’s “only interest is pushing me off the circuit completely” after accusing the Red Bull man of “turning when I’m at full speed” as they jockeyed for position.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has since commented that Verstappen’s driving in Belgium was “refreshing but dangerous”, leading Horner to come to the defence of his driver.
“I am surprised that Toto is commenting on something that had nothing to do with him,” Horner told Motorsport.com.
“But look, I think it was firm. It was on the edge. He got away with it, and the stewards were happy with it.
“If there had been an issue, or it contravened any rules, [driver steward] Danny Sullivan is a pretty experienced guy and he would have called them up, or Charlie Whiting would have reported it to the stewards. There was no action from the stewards.
“I think when he [Verstappen] looks back it, it was on the edge and obviously he got away with it. But I am sure he will have a look at it for future races.”
The Briton added: “If there was a major issue with it, the stewards have called him up. We’ve seen that before.
“It was on the limit. He will learn from it. He is young, he is quick – and all the seriously ambitious and gifted drivers have that streak with them.
“I remember Sebastian getting criticised a few years ago, and there have been a few other drivers that have shown that fighting spirit.
“I think part of that fighting spirit is why there has been such a big crowd [at Spa] this weekend.”
Horner’s comments are in stark contrast to those of former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve who has asserted that Verstappen is getting special treatment from the FIA because his brand of driving is exciting.
“The issue is the FIA, because it looks like he’s got protection,” Villeneuve told Motorsport.com. “They want him to be a star.
“Look in Germany. He weaved on the straight, so Nico [Rosberg] missed his braking [point]. They go a bit wide – Nico gets a penalty. For something even less than… and it wasn’t even his fault.
“So there is something that is wrong. I don’t know. It’s something that makes me angry, but that’s just the way it is. Twenty years ago someone would have put him in a tree.”
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