FIA Concedes Verstappen Should Have Received Black-and-White Warning Flag in Austria

The FIA has conceded that Max Verstappen should have been issued a black-and-white warning flag for moving under braking during the Austrian Grand Prix.

In the latter stages of the race, Verstappen’s collision with Lando Norris sparked controversy. McLaren argued that if Verstappen had been warned for his earlier actions, the incident might have been averted.

Niels Wittich, Race Director, FIA, talks to Jonathan Wheatley, Team Manager, Red Bull Racing, in the paddock

Throughout the race, as Norris attempted to overtake Verstappen at Turn 3, the Red Bull driver appeared to alter his line under braking—a maneuver prohibited under F1’s Driving Standards Guidelines, which state: “When defending, there must be no change in direction by the defending car, after the deceleration phase has commenced, except to follow the racing line.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, battles with Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

At the time, Verstappen’s actions were not judged to breach the regulations, resulting in no immediate penalty or warning.

In response to McLaren’s post-race dissatisfaction, the matter was reviewed in Thursday evening’s team managers’ meeting at the British Grand Prix. According to sources at Motorsport.com, F1 Race Director Niels Wittich acknowledged that, upon reflection during the FIA’s routine post-race review, more should have been done.

Wittich reportedly stated that Verstappen should have received a black-and-white warning flag. This signal’s application was expanded in 2024 under Appendix H of the FIA’s International Sporting Code. The revised rule, Article 2.5.4.1 f), specifies that the flag serves as a one-time warning for unsportsmanlike behavior or actions that could incur penalties if repeated.

McLaren welcomed the FIA’s acknowledgment. Team Principal Andrea Stella expressed satisfaction with the FIA’s admission, affirming that McLaren’s immediate post-race assessment had been accurate.

“We are happy because I think the FIA has expressed their opinion around what happened in Austria, and we are satisfied that this opinion confirms our understanding,” Stella said. “During the race, you’re not in a position to influence much, as you can only speak to the race director, not the stewards. But the FIA’s review has confirmed that a warning, if not a black-and-white flag, should have been given to Max, potentially preventing the escalation that led to the collision.”

This admission by the FIA highlights the ongoing efforts to refine race regulations and their enforcement, ensuring fair competition and addressing issues proactively.