Red Bull boss Christian Horner has defended the post-race actions of Max Verstappen at the Brazilian Grand Prix, after his driver was filmed physically shoving Esteban Ocon following an on-track collision.
Verstappen was leading the race when Ocon attempted to unlap himself on lap 44 and the two drivers made contact at Turn 2. The incident resulted in Verstappen losing the lead of the race to Lewis Hamilton and Ocon was given a ten-second stop-go penalty for causing a collision.
The post-race altercation took place in the FIA’s weighing room and saw Verstappen shove Ocon three times as the pair exchanged words. The incident was reported to the stewards for further investigation, but Horner defended his driver, saying Ocon was lucky just to be pushed.
“I think Max has been pretty restrained to be honest with you,” he told Sky Sports. “It cost him a grand prix victory, he’s driven his heart out with a damaged car and Esteban was lucky to get away with just a push to be honest with you.
“Emotions are running high, I told him to just get yourself under control on the cool-down lap because he has lost a race victory through no fault of his own. Hugely frustrating for him and everyone at the team. We had Mercedes on the ropes, we had passed Ferrari, so hugely frustrating for everybody to lose a victory due to a backmarker.”
When Verstappen was asked about the pushing incident, he said: “We are all passionate about the sport, right? It would be odd if I would shake his hand.”
He added: “I don’t care what people say.”
Horner said the collision with Ocon caused major damage to Verstappen’s car and praised his driver for closing the gap to 1.4s by the end of the race.
“To actually close on Lewis with half the floor missing — the amount of downforce he lost is enormous,” Horner added. “He just drove the wheels off the car trying to put Lewis under pressure. We could see the front tyre of Lewis’ car opening up. But unfortunately with a wounded car, he didn’t quite have the pace to catch him.”