Red Bull boss Christian Horner lays into FIA after Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton drama

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has hit out at the “over-regulated” way that he believes Formula One is being run by the FIA after Max Verstappen picked up two penalties during the highly controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Despite drama unfolding from start to finish, including two red-flag periods, various safety cars and a handful of virtual safety cars, the main focal point was still firmly on Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen after the two title rivals clashed on lap 37 of the race.

Verstappen had been instructed to hand back the lead of the race to Hamilton or pick up a penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

But confusion followed as Verstappen appeared to slow for Hamilton before cramming on his breaks, with the seven-time world champion slamming into the back of the Red Bull.

Hamilton and Mercedes were left fuming, and although Verstappen did hand back the lead, he was hit with a five-second time penalty for the incident at Turn 1 having been deemed to gain an advantage going off track earlier, as he slowed to let his rival past.

“We’re over-regulated and there are rules about 10 car lengths, but a formation isn’t a formation lap if it’s a restart,” said Horner.

“It feels that there’s too many rules to a certain degree.

“It felt like today the sport missed Charlie Whiting, I’m sorry to say, but the experience that he had.

“It’s obviously frustrating. But it’s difficult for Michael and the stewards, particularly at this type of venue, this type of circuit, the amount of debris, and types of corner.

Max Verstappen hit by second penalty after Saudi Arabian GP 

“But it’s the same for everyone.”

Both drivers were then summoned to the stewards for the scrap, with Verstappen slapped with a 10-second time penalty to be added on after the race.

The Dutchman kept his second-place finish, but speaking before the decision, Red Bull already felt aggrieved by the initial penalty handed to the 24-year-old during the race.

“We feel hard done by with the five-second penalty,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“Lewis has got overspeed there, they have both gone wide, they’ve both gone in hard, and I think this is one of the things that we’ve been going on about of ‘let them race’.

“Does that warrant a five-second penalty? For me, that was on the harsh side.

“Lewis is slowing down behind him because he lifted off. So it’s like he didn’t want to pass him there because of the DRS.

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“We were trying to give the place up, and Lewis then drives up the back of Max’s car.

“Obviously we picked up quite a bit of damage with that, so very frustrating, very annoying.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff however had no interest in being drawn into a conversation about the FIA after Hamilton crossed the line first to draw level on points with Verstappen heading into the final race of the season.

“I think we had confusion today,” said Wolff.

“I would have wished that the red flag wouldn’t have been taken at the beginning of the race, it’s where I thought that we’ve lost the race and that clearly was also a judgmental call when some of the advertising on a barrier is ripped off whether you stop the race but it is what it is.

“There was so much on today. So many things to judge. And I wouldn’t want to be neither in Michael’s seat nor in the stewards’ seat today because you’re always looking stupid if you’re making mistakes and if there are 100 decisions to take there may be some that are wrong or controversial.

“I think we just need to learn from that.”

Specifically, Wolff felt it was Verstappen’s driving standards that should be looked into after the race, not the nature of penalties.

“It’s really the driving that needs to be assessed and looked at,” Wolff added to Sky.

“It’s hard, very hard, maybe over the line hard, and we just want to have a clean championship, may the best man win, and if it’s Max at the end, then I have peace with that.

“But it needs to just be a fair race.”

The season finale in Abu Dhabi gets underway on Sunday at 1pm GMT with qualifying on Saturday at the same time.

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