Michael Schumacher dragged into war of words involving Red Bull’s Christian Horner

Christian Horner hit back at McLaren team principal Andrea Stella ‘s critique of Max Verstappen by referencing Michael Schumacher.

Christian Horner speaks to Max Verstappen

Last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix was ignited by Verstappen’s manoeuvre that led to Lando Norris’ retirement from the race. They’d been battling hard for the lead until the reigning world champion moved under breaking and forced contact.

Stella was far from impressed with his actions and suggested the leniency shown by the FIA towards him during his intense 2021 rivalry with Lewis Hamilton has caused him to carry on racing beyond the regulations.

However, Red Bull’s Horner dismissed this claim, citing Stella’s time as Schumacher’s engineer at Ferrari to make his case. Via the Express, he told Sky Sports: “I think Max raced hard in ’21. It was like a heavyweight bout in every race we went to.

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“He was punished in ’21 if he did something wrong in the same way Lewis was punished for things he did wrong. So I think it’s wrong and unfair to label a driver like that.

“I’m sure, in the heat of the moment, it was frustrating for Andrea. It’s just tough racing. He worked with Michael Schumacher for so many years. Of all people, he should know that.”

Verstappen refused to accept responsibility for the incident, receiving full support from his team. Horner was adamant about not altering his approach, while chief Helmut Marko labelled Norris as “pathetic” for his complaints over the team radio.

Stella expressed disappointment at their reaction, accusing them of deliberate ignorance. “I see it as the entire population in the world will know who is responsible, except for a group of people,” he told Sky post-race.

Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Andrea Stella
McLaren team principal Andrea Stella [R] worked as Schumacher’s engineer from 2002 to 2006 
Getty Images)

“But the problem behind it is that if you don’t address these things honestly, they will come back. They have come back today because they were not addressed properly in the past when there were some fights with Lewis that needed to be punished in a harsher way.

“You learn now to race in a certain way, which we can consider fair and square. There are many episodes. The fact is that we have so much respect for Red Bull, so much respect for Max. They don’t need to do this. They don’t need to do this. This is a way to almost compromise your reputation. Why would you do that?”

Verstappen and Norris managed to clear the air personally, aiming to maintain their strong friendship off the track. They’re set to compete again at Silverstone today, starting fourth and third on the grid respectively.

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