Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has apologised for using offensive language over the team radio at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The Dutchman directed words regarded as offensive about disabled people at Racing Point’s Lance Stroll after the two crashed.
Verstappen shrugged it off, but has now issued a public apology before this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“It happened in the heat of the moment,” Verstappen said.
“I know the words I used were not correct. I never meant to offend anyone.
“Of course I was swearing at Lance but then I saw him straight away after and that’s what racing drivers are, we can be angry with each other but five minutes later and we look each other in the eyes, it can be forgotten.
“Things get heated up from the outside. I never meant to hurt anyone. I also know it was not correct but I cannot change it but of course you learn from it and we will do better.”
Verstappen was spoken to by his team about the offensive language in Portugal last weekend, and team boss Christian Horner said Red Bull “don’t condone” the remarks.
Horner added: “They were made in the heat of the moment when emotions were running high. Max did not mean to cause offence.”
Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko added on German television that the team had advised Verstappen the remarks he used were not acceptable.
Verstappen made the comments straight after he and Stroll collided at the first corner following a misunderstanding in second practice at the Autodromo do Algarve.
The 23-year-old had let Stroll past him at the end of the previous lap and then tried to pass the Canadian at the start of the next as the Red Bull driver was beginning a flying lap.
Verstappen dived for the inside of Stroll at Turn One but the Racing Point driver turned in and they hit each other.
Formula 1 stewards investigated the incident but decided to take no further action on the grounds it was a misunderstanding.
The seat alongside Verstappen is still open for 2021 and pressure has been building on Alex Albon to improve his performances and be closer to his team-mate to retain it.
Horner has made it clear that Red Bull will look outside their driver programme for a replacement if they decide Albon should be dropped.
Horner said: “Its Alex’s seat and he’s got his bum in the car and everyone wants him to retain that seat. He needs to lock out the outside noise, keep his head down and have a good weekend.”
Horner said Red Bull had been working to address the rear instability problem that has affected Albon’s attempts to close the gap on Verstappen.
“A fast car is sometimes a difficult car and the way we try to generate lap time is on corner entry and the car has had its complexities this year,” Horner said.
“That has made life difficult but we are bringing in some developments that are starting to address that and produce a more rounded package that doesn’t have these peculiarities.”