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Brown hits out at Red Bull for ‘encouraging’ aggressive Verstappen driving

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has criticised Red Bull and its Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner for “encouraging” Max Verstappen to continue driving in an aggressive manner.

Amid the fallout of the collision between Verstappen and Lando Norris at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Brown said that there are aspects that the FIA can improve to ensure such incidents are dealt with better in the future.

But he also believes one aspect that has left him uncomfortable is the way that Red Bull has acted in defending Verstappen, both with its stance on team radio messages and in post-event interviews.

Brown has even gone as far as suggesting it follows a trend for the team in not respecting F1’s rules.

Speaking ahead of the British Grand Prix about what happened in Austria, Brown said: “I’m also disappointed in such a great team like Red Bull that the leadership almost encourages it, because you listen on the radio what was said.

“We all have a responsibility on pit wall to tell our drivers the do’s and don’ts of what’s going on in the race, and so I think we need to have respect for regulations.

“We’ve seen there be lack of respect – whether it’s financial regulations, or sporting, on track, issues with fathers and things of that nature. I just don’t think that’s how we need to go racing.

“We need to guide our drivers on what’s right or wrong, and I think had it been addressed earlier, maybe that incident wouldn’t have taken place.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“So it’s a racing incident that I think could have been avoided if the pit wall and the stewards had maybe been more on top of what the regulations say you can and can’t do.”

Asked if his comments about Red Bull not respecting the regulations was something that he would speak to Horner directly about, Brown said: “That’s the FIA’s role. I don’t really have any interest in speaking with Christian.”

Permanent professional stewards

While Norris and Verstappen have agreed to move on from what happened in Austria, Brown thinks that there are improvements that can be made to how incidents can be dealt with.

In particular, he thinks there needs to be more consistency in stewards’ decisions – which could perhaps only come with the appointment of professionals.

“As we reflect on the weekend, and I think this is something that the FIA agrees with, we need to invest more in our stewarding to have greater consistency and enforcement of the regulations,” he said.

“I think having part-time stewards, it’s a very difficult job. It’s quite complex, and so to do it on a part-time basis for the level F1 is at, I think is difficult.

“Max and Lando were just duking it out, as you’d expect them to do, and until someone tells Max that that’s against the regulations, he’s not going to know any different.

“So I think there were missed opportunities for the stewards to make note.”

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