Former F1 driver and current FIA driver steward Johnny Herbert explained the rationale behind handing Max Verstappen a penalty in Austria, as well as the “intimidation” tactics he is able to employ to his advantage.

Verstappen was handed a 10-second time penalty for being found predominantly responsible for the dramatic contact with Norris in the closing stages in Austria at the weekend, and Herbert said Norris “did the right thing” by staying his course heading up to Turn 3.

Johnny Herbert: ‘It was Max Verstappen’s fault’

Herbert, who was among the FIA stewards at the Austrian Grand Prix, explained that the 10-second punishment handed down was the toughest one available to them at the time during the race.

Alongside that, he believes Verstappen “intimidates everybody” while on track, which is also an effective tool used by the great champions of the sport when they have gone about their racing.

“It was Max’s fault,” Herbert told Coin Poker.

“He is a hard racer. He is very, very hard to beat. He intimidates everybody. That intimidation is something that Lewis, Michael Schumacher, and Ayrton Senna, have always done.

“When you come up against Max as he is driving today, there’s a point if you’re Lando that you have to say: ‘I am here. I am at your side. You are trying to squeeze me off the circuit. And I am not going to move.’

“Lando did the right thing. He did not move. He did not have to. Some people said he could have moved. But that is not how you beat Max or how you win the Grand Prix.

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“It is the side of Max that has always been part of his armoury. We haven’t seen it for a while, because he has been so dominant.

“It is interesting to see how he reacts under pressure. He did not agree with the penalty that came his way which also included two points on his license.

“I am sure he will reflect and once he has had time to think about it and look at the video he will understand that that is not a situation he could into again because it might harm his chances of winning the World Championships this year.

“It is good that he is under pressure for the first time in a long time. Lando and McLaren have been chipping away at it and now you start seeing those little cracks starting to appear.

“Max had to go back to his hard self which sometimes just goes over the top and gets himself into trouble.”

When it was put to him about Verstappen making the move deliberately, Herbert clarified: “It is deliberate which is why I use the word intimidation where he goes to the very limits without getting himself in trouble. But he has always had this in his history.”

As for the penalty, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella had hoped for a harsher punishment to come Verstappen’s way, given he did not lose any positions at the chequered flag as a result of the 10 seconds being added to his race time.

But as Herbert said, that was the most that was available to them.

“That is the hardest one that can be applied under FIA guidelines that we operate under as stewards,” he said.

“McLaren have said it should have been harsher, but that is the game all teams play.

“If someone had flipped over or been barrel rolling down the track I don’t know if that would have changed things. Forcing a driver off the circuit or causing an incident is what it came under.

“That was the maximum sanction we could have taken.”

For how future battles between Norris and Verstappen might play out, Herbert believes Verstappen’s intimidation is a strong tool to have within him as he goes forward, while Norris may have to get clever if he is to beat the Red Bull driver to race victories.

“Lando is probably the one who has less aggression, but he can actually outfox him and in a smart way,” he said.

“Max has the aggression, but he has to use it in a way that intimidation is still there. For me intimidation is still the most powerful thing when you are going wheel to wheel.”

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