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FIA admits Verstappen should have had black-and-white warning flag in Austria

The FIA has admitted that Max Verstappen should have been given a black-and-white warning flag for moving under braking in Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix.

In the wake of a collision that the Dutchman had with Lando Norris late in last weekend’s race, McLaren believed that the incident could have been avoided if the FIA had issued a warning against Verstappen for his actions earlier on.

Several times, as Norris attempted to take the lead at Turn 3, Verstappen appeared to move under braking – an action that is specifically outlawed in the F1’s Driving Standards Guidelines that stewards use.

It states: “When defending, there must be no change in direction by the defending car, after the deceleration phase has commenced, except to follow the racing line.”

However, at the time, Verstappen’s actions were not deemed to be outside the rules, which is why there was no intervention.

With McLaren upset after the race about how things were handled at the Red Bull Ring, has learned the matter was discussed in Thursday evening’s team managers’ meeting at the British Grand Prix.

And it is understood that F1 race director Niels Wittich told all the competitors that, following reflection in its regular post-event review that the FIA conducts into how each GP is run, it was agreed that the governing body should have done more.

Niels Wittich, Race Director, FIA, talks to Jonathan Wheatley, Team Manager, Red Bull Racing, in the paddock

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Wittich is believed to have said that what should have happened was for Verstappen to be given a black-and-white warning flag, especially because the use of that signal has changed this year.

In a reworking of Appendix H of the FIA’s International Sporting for the start of 2024, the black-and-white warning flag is no longer just restricted for use for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

The new Article f) states that: “This flag should be shown once only and is a warning to the driver concerned for unsportsmanlike behaviour or for an action which may result in a penalty if repeated.”

The FIA’s acceptance that it should have given Verstappen a warning has been welcomed by McLaren,

Team principal Andrea Stella said: “We are happy because I think the FIA have expressed their opinion around what happened in Austria and we are satisfied that this opinion confirms that our understanding straight after the race was correct, and during the race to some extent.

“During the race, you’re not in a condition to influence very much, because you can’t even talk to the stewards. You can talk to the race director, but actually, he does not talk to the stewards.

“So, our understanding was confirmed by the FIA, who will have obviously reviewed internally and might have updated their interpretation.

“And I think we all came to the conclusion that a warning should have been given to Max, if not black and white flag. And this would have prevented an escalation that led to the collision.”

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