Christian Horner felt Sebastian Vettel’s lap seven move on Max Verstappen at Spoon was ‘optimistic’, although he agreed with the stewards at the Suzuka International Racing Course that it was a racing incident.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Vettel attacked Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen for third but the two clashed, with the former falling to the rear of the field as a result of the contact, while the latter was able to continue in the same position despite being forced to run off-track.
Horner, the team principal of Red Bull, says Vettel’s optimism and Verstappen’s robust defence caused the incident to occur, and it was a correct decision by the stewards to take no action against either driver.
“It’s very hard to overtake into that corner,” Horner is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “It’s not a big braking zone, and obviously Sebastian was optimistic in his move and Max was robust in his defence.
“For me it was a racing incident, and I think the stewards came to the right decision. It was very opportunistic by Seb at a corner that it’s very hard to overtake at.”
Verstappen was also involved in contact with the other Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen on the opening lap, with the Dutchman earning himself a five-second time penalty for the incident. Initially the twenty-one-year-old ran across the grass at the Casio chicane at the end of the lap, only to re-join just at the point where the Finn was, with the two clashing.
Horner defended Verstappen after his collision but accepted the penalty that came their way, although ultimately it did not cost them any position in the final result.
“He’s a hard racer,” said Horner. “The incident at the chicane with Kimi, he’s run deep into the chicane, he’s gone off track, he’s re-joined.
“You can see he’s not looking in his mirrors, and not really aware of where Kimi is. They’ve made contact, it’s gone to the stewards. They’ve come up with a penalty, which we accept, and then obviously he’s had to pull out the gap to get the pitstop window to clear the penalty.
“At the end of the day we have to accept the stewards decision. We felt it was a racing incident. he’s not aware of where Kimi is at the point he re-joined. It was unfortunate.”