McLaren F1 chief Zak Brown has hit out at Red Bull for “almost encouraging” Max Verstappen’s aggressive driving style following his collision with Lando Norris in Austria.

The first major flashpoint between Verstappen and Norris occurred as they collided amid a fierce battle for victory at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix – an incident which wrecked both drivers’ shot at the win. 

Both Verstappen and Norris have since downplayed the coming together and insist they remain good friends, but McLaren boss Brown believes it was a crash that “could have been avoided” and suggested introducing a full-time panel of stewards.

“It was quite an epic battle, exciting for the fans, exciting for everyone in Formula 1,” Brown said in Friday’s FIA press conference at Silverstone. “I think it was a matter of time before we saw the two of them going head-to-head.

“Obviously an unfortunate outcome in what was a very small touch. But I think as we reflect on the weekend, I think we need, and this is something the FIA agrees with, we need to invest more in our stewarding to have greater consistency and enforcement of the regulations.

“I think having part-time stewards, it’s a very difficult job, they do it on a part-time basis for the level F1 is at, is difficult. Max and Lando were just duking it out as you’d expect them to do.

“Until someone tells Max that that’s against the regulations, he’s not going to know any different. So I think there were missed opportunities for the stewards to make note. Also disappointed that such a great team like Red Bull, that the leadership almost encourages it, because you listen on the radio and what was said.

“We all have a responsibility on pit wall to tell our drivers the dos and don’ts and what’s going on in the race. So I think we need to have respect in the regulations. We’ve seen a lack of respect, whether it be financial regulations, or sporting on-track issues with fathers and things of that nature.

“I just don’t think that’s how we need to go racing and we need to guide our drivers on what’s right or wrong and I think had it been addressed earlier, maybe that incident wouldn’t have taken place.

“So [a] racing incident, but I think could have been avoided if the pit wall and the stewards had been more on top of what you can or can’t do.”

Asked what he felt would have been an appropriate penalty for Verstappen, Brown replied: “I think what they gave. You’re supposed to give a driver a car’s width and he didn’t.

“It was unfortunate. It could have just been a small rub and carried on. But I thought that was the right penalty because that’s what the rulebook says. Again, I think Max is an awesome racing driver, fighting for the lead.

“It’s our responsibility as teams to let the drivers know what the limits are. If you don’t, I wouldn’t expect Max to do anything differently.”