SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - Christian Horner has defended Max Verstappen from criticism after the Belgian Grand Prix, saying the Dutchman's driving was "on the edge" but within the rules.
Verstappen;s driving is the subject of much debate after the race of Spa-Francorchamps, having been involved in a first-corner collision with both Ferraris before a spate of incidents during the race. After the race Kimi Raikkonen suggested Verstappen is only going to reign in his aggression when he has an accident, with the pair again coming to blows at the Les Combes chicane.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also weighed into the issue, labelling Verstappen's approach "refreshing but dangerous". Red Bull team boss Horner admitted Verstappen's driving was on the edge of what was acceptable but pointed out the stewards found no reason to investigate his driving during the race.
Speaking about the criticism, Horner said: "I'm surprised that Toto's commenting on something that's got nothing to do with him, but I think it was firm, it was on the edge, he got away with it today, the Stewards were happy with it. So if there were to be an issue or a conflict of any rules I'm sure [FIA steward] Danny Sullivan's an experienced guy, he would have called them up or [race director] Charlie Whiting would have reported it to the Stewards.
"There was no action from the Stewards, when he looked back at it, it was on the edge, and obviously he got away with it today. I'm sure he'll have a look at it and learn for future races."
After qualifying second, Verstappen looked best placed to challenge Nico Rosberg for the race victory. His incident with Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel immediately dropped him out of contention.
Horner does not think any one driver was to blame for the collision.
"When you have three cars going for one place I think Sebastian on the outside squeezed the two too much, he probably didn't realise Max was up the inside and that gave Kimi nowhere to go. I think that one was a racing incident but probably triggered by the fact that Sebastian on the outside came across perhaps a little too aggressively, Max had everything under control he wasn't going to undershoot.
"You can see that Kimi was aware that he was up the inside into the corner, for Kimi there was nothing he could do, obviously it was a racing incident triggered maybe by the outside car taking quite an aggressive cut into the corner."
Asked if Verstappen's aggression was a sign of him playing up to the massive Dutch crowd in attendance, Horner said: "No not at all, yesterday the strategy point, the preferred strategy from the strategist was to go with the tyre that he took. I opened it up as a choice because the more risk was to try to get through qualifying on the other tyre, he did a great performance in qualifying and an unbelievable lap yesterday.
" The start wasn't great, he recovered into the first turn, he got chalked... Obviously there's a lot of focus on the move with Kimi, but bar that he's driven very well all weekend.