Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he was “convinced” Max Verstappen’s overtake on Charles Leclerc would go unpunished, insisting it was “hard but fair racing”.
Verstappen fought back from almost stalling on the grid to pressuring Leclerc for the race lead with just three laps remaining, sending a decisive divebomb on the inside of Turn 3 before banging wheels with Leclerc on the apex and moving in to first place.
The Red Bull driver duly went on to claim victory but was immediately was under investigation for the incident, a decision that was deliberated for more than three hours after the grand prix had ended.
The stewards’ verdict labelled the collision as a “racing incident”, preserving Verstappen’s first triumph this season, but, despite the long wait for a decision, Horner felt relaxed no penalty would be awarded.
“It was close racing, he had won the competition in the braking area,” Horner said, as quoted by Crash.net.
“There was a touch, as Charles turned in, but I thought it was good racing, tough racing. He was slightly ahead, got to the apex first, it was checkmate.
“Then he got his head down and was pulling away. To win here in Austria, Red Bull car, to get Honda’s first win as well since 2006, in the style and manner he did was the perfect day for us.
“We were completely convinced it was okay. Then it goes to the stewards, at that point you don’t know. Tom Kristensen and the stewards up there today have made absolutely the right choice. One day it will go against us. It was hard racing, fair racing, it’s what F1 should be.”
Following recent criticism over Formula 1’s current state with uneventful races and brandishing of penalties, Horner was satisfied the result stood.
“It’s incomprehensible to think they would have changed the podium after a race like that. It was just the tonic that F1 needed,” he added.
Verstappen’s sixth career victory sees him leapfrog Sebastian Vettel to third in the drivers’ standings on 126 points.