Motor racing-Horner fears F1 risks the equivalent of diving footballers

·2-min read
Bahrain Grand Prix

LONDON (Reuters) - Red Bull boss Christian Horner fears that by penalising drivers for what might be seen as racing incidents, Formula One risks the equivalent of a footballer taking a dive to gain an advantage.

Penalty points became a talking point after Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, with three incidents involving Red Bull's Sergio Perez and a spate of others involving waved yellow warning flags.

McLaren's Lando Norris, who finished third, was handed two penalty points for forcing the Mexican off track while defending his position.

That took the Briton's tally to 10 for a 12-month period, with 12 triggering an automatic race ban.

Norris told reporters that such a ban should be due to major breaches of safety rather than an accumulation of incidents that in themselves did not warrant such severe punishment.

"Why should I deserve penalty points today for someone going into the gravel?," he asked.

"If you do (something)...that will put people in danger then I understand penalty points for a driver and if that adds up you get a driver ban or race ban but for little things like this, it’s stupid in my opinion. It’s not what Formula One should be."

Horner felt there was a risk drivers might try to get rivals in trouble by making ambitious moves that forced them to run wide.

"You don’t want the equivalent of footballers taking a dive. I think we need to avoid that," said Horner, who felt Norris's move was more a racing incident.

FIA race director Michael Masi backed up the stewards, however.

"It’s a penalty point system that exists, it’s been there all the way through...and they have to adjust their driving style accordingly," he said.

"The penalty scale is something the teams all agree upon and actually have input on at the start of the year."

Formula One managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn said the stewards had faced tough decisions.

"No one, including the stewards, wants to see penalties and I think they will be debated for a long time," he said in a column for the official Formula One website.

"But equally, we can’t have unregulated aggression on the track. It’s not what we want to see either. Finding that balance isn’t always easy."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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