Sky F1 commentator David Croft has called for Christian Horner and other senior members of the Red Bull team to visit the stewards for their “mollycoddling” of Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was involved in a collision with McLaren driver Lando Norris while duelling for the lead in the closing laps in Austria last weekend, with both drivers suffering punctures.

‘Christian Horner, Red Bull not doing Max Verstappen any favours’

The Red Bull driver was deemed to be at fault for the incident and was hit with a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.

The decision did not go down well with Verstappen’s team, with Horner telling his driver over team radio at the end of the race that Norris “didn’t behave correctly there” as the pair made contact at Turn 3.

Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast, Croft remarked that he is keen to see Horner – as well as Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley and Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase – to be called before the FIA stewards ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

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And he accused the team of “mollycoddling” Verstappen for refusing to point out the three-time World Champion’s role in the incident with Norris.

His comments come after Andrea Stella, the McLaren team principal, claimed the FIA’s failure to punish Verstappen “properly” for a series of incidents with Lewis Hamilton in 2021 had emboldened the Dutchman to drive with such aggression in combat.

Croft said: “I’d like to see Christian Horner, Jonathan Wheatley, and Gianpiero Lambiase just called in for a chat with the stewards when they get to Silverstone.

“Because one thing I did [notice] was the way that the Red Bull team – obviously protecting their driver, because any team would do that – made it out that it was all Lando’s fault and that Max had been sinned against, when I don’t think that was the case.

“You could argue Lando shouldn’t have had his car there, but Max definitely moved twice in those braking zones and was causing the issue, as far as I saw it.

“But I’d just like a chat that says to the Red Bull team: ‘Look, we know you’re trying to protect your driver but you’re not doing him any favours.’

“Because if you keep saying this is allowed, this is tolerated, this is absolutely fine, he’s going to keep doing it.

“And if he keeps doing it, eventually it’s going to cost him way more than cost him on Sunday.

“So you can either have an honest chat with him or you can carry on mollycoddling, it’s entirely up to you.”

Croft’s fellow pundit, the 1996 World Champion Damon Hill, argued Verstappen “can be a little bit rude” in interactions with Lambiase over team radio, stressing the importance of drivers conducting themselves correctly.

He said: “I agree. I think there is too much.

“Maybe privately, behind closed doors, they say to Max: ‘That’s too much, you’ve gone too far there. We could have won that race, but you had to get in a tangle with the other guy and of course the risk is that you don’t finish.’

“Maybe they do that privately, but publicly they put up a very strong protective ring around Max.

“But some of the times when you hear Max on the radio to Gianpiero, if anyone talked to me like that I’d have a few things to say about it. He can be a little bit rude. I understand he’s under stress.

“I don’t want to blame Max. I think Max is one of these incredible talents who’ve necessarily been given opportunities, because he needs to have the opportunities for his talent.

“And maybe somebody in that fraternity needs to say [something].

“There is a question of conduct, there is a question of attitude and respect for others, which is important in sport.

“There’s no money attached to it and there’s no points for it, but there is a lot of other benefits to behaving that way, I think.”

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