Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he was convinced and found it incomprehensible Max Verstappen would get a penalty for his clash with Charles Leclerc fighting for victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

With three laps to go, Verstappen and Leclerc produced the flashpoint of the race when the Dutch driver dived up the inside of the race leader at the Turn 3 hairpin. The pair bashed wheels at the corner apex, sending the Ferrari driver over the kerbs and off track, to see his Red Bull rival charge into the lead and on to victory.

But his triumph was plunged into uncertainty when the incident was put under investigation by the FIA stewards and after three hours of deliberating the race officials confirmed no penalty would be required, meaning Verstappen would keep his first win of 2019 and the first victory for the new Red Bull Honda partnership.

While Horner conceded it was an anxious wait for the final decision he was convinced a penalty wouldn’t be handed to Verstappen and saw it as “hard but fair racing”.

“It was close racing, he had won the competition in the braking area,” Horner said. “There was a touch, as Charles turned in, but I thought it was good racing, tough racing. He was slightly ahead, got to the apex first, it was checkmate.

“Then he got his head down and was pulling away. To win here in Austria, Red Bull car, to get Honda’s first win as well since 2006, in the style and manner he did was the perfect day for us.

“We were completely convinced it was okay. Then it goes to the stewards, at that point you don’t know. Tom Kristensen and the stewards up there today have made absolutely the right choice. One day it will go against us. It was hard racing, fair racing, it’s what F1 should be.”

Horner also warned there would have been uproar had a penalty lost Verstappen the win and felt the race itself has given Formula 1 a timely boost following the run of criticism its faced over both dull racing and stewards’ decisions

“It’s incomprehensible to think they would have changed the podium after a race like that. It was just the tonic that F1 needed,” he said.

Verstappen’s win lifts him to third place in the F1 drivers’ standings ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by three points.

 

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