Ferrari has criticised the decision by stewards not to penalise Max Verstappen for a controversial incident late in the Austrian Grand Prix but won't appeal the verdict.

Ferrari young gun Charles Leclerc led for much of the race but with just a few laps to go made contact with Verstappen as the Red Bull star tried to overtake on the inside.

Leclerc was forced off the track and Verstappen surged ahead to win the race - costing Leclerc his first F1 victory - as stewards declared neither driver had a case to answer for what was deemed to be a racing incident.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said letting Verstappen off the hook was "wrong" but didn't want to dwell too much on the dramatic episode.

"What's Ferrari's opinion and position - we still believe this is a wrong decision, that's our own opinion, we believe that Charles left the entire space, he had no fault, a collision has happened and he has been pushed and forced off the track," Binotto said.

"We believe these are clear rules, which we may appreciate or not, and these are exactly the same rules which have been applied in past races.

"Having said that, we respectfully accept the decision of the stewards, they are the judge and we need to respect that, and more than that I think that as a Ferrari fan - and I'm an ultimate Ferrari fan - I think it's time for F1 to turn the page and to look ahead.

"As we often said, we should leave the drivers free to battle. We may not be happy of the decision, we are not supporting the decision but somehow we understand the fact that we need to move forward, and overall I think that's good for the sport and good for F1."

The King of Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
The King of Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Leclerc was dirty, saying Verstappen was in the wrong and claiming it was "pretty clear" who was to blame for the incident.

"Red Bull was very quick today, very good at keeping the tyres better than us. (I'd have no issues) if I feel that the overtake was done rightly - I don't think the second one was," he told reporters.

"I believe that anyway the end will have probably been the same but it's just not the way you overtake, I think.

"I did not expect any contact."

Speaking to Sky Sports immediately after the controversial finish, Leclerc added: "I'm angry. Obviously, feeling it from the inside, I didn't feel like it was a fair move."

Verstappen has a reputation for pushing the boundaries of what's fair on the track and on BBC 5 Live's broadcast of the race, one commentator said: "It's stupid. Why are we not just having fair racing from Verstappen? He didn't need to do that. Why not try and win the race fairly without shoving your rival off the road? He might get away with that one … but why do that?"

Verstappen was adamant he was innocent, telling journalists in his post-race press conference: "We had a little contact of course at the exit of the corner but from my side, I think it's racing. It's hard racing. It's better than just following each other and having a boring race, isn't it?"

Verstappen's Red Bull boss Christian Horner also had his driver's back.

"He's got the opportunity as he's fully up the inside and alongside. At that point, he can't just get out of the way," Horner told Sky Sports.

"Leclerc has to concede the corner. Leclerc obviously comes back at him aggressively, but what are you supposed to do?

"It was the right thing for Formula 1. So pleased for Max, so pleased for the whole team.

"Max, he just went for it today. It's hard racing, it's tough racing … but it was a fantastic race and we're just very, very proud to have won."

Former world champion Nico Rosberg had no issues with Verstappen's aggressive approach and neither did several commentators.

Sky Sports' Paul di Resta said: "This is racing and you need to get your muscles out. It's a shame for Charles as he was a little hard done by, but at the same time, if there wasn't the tarmac there he probably would've backed out of it."

Former F1 star turned pundit Martin Brundle added: "That's not a penalty. That's a fair overtake. He (Verstappen) is slightly ahead and the door was left open and he walked through it.

"He opens the steering wheel slightly, but he's not run the driver off the road. I cannot see any way they can give a penalty for that."



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