Formula 1 Racing

We gave Verstappen “hardest” penalty for Norris collision

Johnny Herbert, Red Bull Ring, 2024

Former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert, one of the stewards during last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, says there was no harsher penalty they could have given over the collision between the race leaders.

They issued Max Verstappen a 10-second time penalty and two endorsement points on his licence for causing a collision with Lando Norris while they were fighting over the lead.

Herbert was present as the drivers’ advisor as part of the four-person stewarding team, alongside Felix Holter, Matthew Selley and Wilhelm Singer. He said there was no doubt among them who was to blame for the incident on lap 64.

“When we were watching it, it immediately came down to whose fault was it,” he said in comments reported by the Daily Express. “And it was Max’s.”

Verstappen received “hardest” penalty, said Herbert

Verstappen’s 10-second time penalty made no different to his eventual finishing position of fifth. Although the stewards can issue stiffer penalties including drive-through and stop-go penalties, there are further guidelines which indicate what should be applied for different types of offences.

The stewards stated Verstappen’s penalty was applied “in line with precedents” and Herbert said there was no stricter penalty available.

“That is the hardest one that can be applied under FIA guidelines that we operate under as stewards,” said Herbert, a three-times grand prix winner. “McLaren have said it should have been harsher, but that is the game all teams play.

“If someone had flipped over or been barrel-rolling down the track I don’t know if that would have changed things. Forcing a driver off the circuit or causing an incident is what it came under. That was the maximum sanction we could have taken.”

Only one driver has been given a more severe penalty than Verstappen’s for an on-track incident this year. Fernando Alonso was given a drive-through penalty, applied after the race, for “potentially dangerous” driving when he slowed abruptly in front of George Russell at the Australian Grand Prix. Herbert was one of the stewards who handed down this decision on what was considered an unusual case.

However the stewards have issued more than two penalty points to drivers who have caused collisions this year. Alonso was given three penalty points for a collision with Carlos Sainz Jnr during the sprint race in China, where Herbert was not on the stewarding panel.

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