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Christian Horner

Horner hits back at McLaren over 'wrong' Verstappen claim

Christian Horner also revealed that Max Verstappen and Lando Norris had been in contact following the clash.

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Christian Horner has hit back at McLaren boss Andrea Stella's claims about Max Verstappen's conduct after the Lando Norris collision.

The Red Bull and McLaren drivers collided at Turn 3 whilst battling for the lead of the Austrian Grand Prix, with Verstappen drawing wide-spread condemnation for moving under braking, leading to the collision. 

It put Norris out of the race with Verstappen earning a 10-second time penalty and two penalty points from the stewards as he finished fifth - actually extending championship lead over Norris by 10 points, instead of the seven it would have been if he beat the Briton to the flag.

McLaren boss Stella hit out at Verstappen's record, and specifically his driving style in the 2021 title battle against Lewis Hamilton, and specifically the Brazilian and Saudi Arabian races where he drove Hamilton wide or divebombed the Mercedes - but was not harshly punished by the stewards.

It is something Horner - who also revealed talks between Verstappen and Norris had taken place - disagrees with. 

"He raced incredibly hard in 2021, he's a tough racer, and he hasn't been racing anyone for two years because he's been out front so much," told Sky Sports News.

"He was punished in 2021 if he did something wrong just as Lewis, who he was racing so hard that year, was for things he did wrong.

"I think it's wrong and unfair to label a driver like that. 

"I'm sure in the heat of the moment it was frustrating for Andrea, but that's just tough racing. He worked with Michael Schumacher [at Ferrari] for so many years - he of all people should know that."

Verstappen and Norris have spoken

Post-race, the drivers indicated that they would speak about the incident, with Verstappen and Norris being good friends off the track. 

But despite the talks, Horner insists that Verstappen will change his approach. 

"I understand they've spoken already, I don't think there is any issue," he added.

"Certainly, from Max's side, he's not going to change.

"Max is a hard racer - he's probably one of the hardest racers on the circuit and everybody knows that if you're going to race against Max, he's going to give as good as he gets."

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