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‘The entire world knows who is responsible’ – Stella weighs in on Verstappen/Norris Austria clash as he makes 2021 comparison

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McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella has hit out at Max Verstappen and Red Bull after a crash between the Dutch driver and McLaren’s Lando Norris in the Austrian Grand Prix, which saw Norris eliminated from the race.

An uncharacteristically slow pit stop for Red Bull had allowed Norris to close right up to leader Verstappen – who’d looked on course for a comfortable victory at the Red Bull Ring – midway through the 71-lap race, the Briton proceeding to launch a series of attacks on the three-time champion.

READ MORE: ‘I feel let down’ – Norris says Verstappen ‘in the wrong’ as both drivers give their take on Austria clash

However, his final attempt on Lap 64 saw the pair make contact, with both drivers suffering punctures but only Norris retiring, as Verstappen recovered to P5 – notwithstanding a 10-second penalty handed down to him by the stewards for causing the incident.

With Verstappen informed of his penalty over team radio after crossing the finish line, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner was quick to suggest that the blame lay with Norris for the incident, telling his driver: “[Norris] didn’t behave correctly there Max. Desperately unlucky, especially here [at Red Bull’s home race], but you did your very best.”

2024 Austrian Grand Prix: High drama as Norris and Verstappen collide after titanic battle for the lead

Unsurprisingly, however, Horner’s view was not shared by his counterpart at McLaren, with Stella explaining his perspective in an interview with Sky Sports F1 – as he compared the crash to Verstappen’s infamous spats with Lewis Hamilton during their fraught title fight in 2021.

“The entire population in the world [knows] who is responsible – except for a group of people,” said Stella. “But the problem behind it is that if you don’t address these things honestly, then it will come back.

READ MORE: Russell ecstatic after ‘picking up the pieces’ from Verstappen/Norris collision to claim second Grand Prix win

“They have come back today because they were not addressed properly in the past, when there were some fights with Lewis that needed to be punished in a harsher way. Like this, you learn how to race in a certain way, which [is] fair and square.”

Asked if he was referring specifically to Verstappen and Hamilton’s battle at the 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix, Stella replied: “There’s many episodes. The fact is, we have so much respect for Red Bull, so much respect for Max, they don’t need to do this... This is a way to almost compromise your reputation. Why would you do that?”

2024 Austrian Grand Prix: Verstappen hits out at penalty for Norris clash

Although Verstappen was penalised for the incident – specifically a 10-second time penalty and two penalty points on his licence after the stewards judged him to have been “predominantly at fault” for the crash – Stella called for the regulations to be “enforced in a way that is effective”, citing the fact that Norris was forced out of the race as Verstappen was able to extend his championship lead over the McLaren driver by 10 points.

“The stewards found that Max was fully at blame in this episode, so it’s not about racing in a driver’s way,” said Stella, when asked if Norris had simply fallen foul of Verstappen’s elbows-out style of racing. “It’s about racing within the regulations.

MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: ‘We did everything wrong’ – Did Red Bull’s strategy calls really put Verstappen into Norris’s clutches?

“And the regulations must be enforced in a way that is effective. Because when a car is out of a race as a consequence of this accident, the punishment needs to be proportionate to the outcome.”

Verstappen’s 18 points from the Austria weekend – 10 for his P5 finish in the race, plus eight for winning Saturday’s Sprint – means his lead over Norris in the drivers’ standings now stands at 81 points.

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