Max Verstappen, Lando Norris reflect on their F1 Austrian GP fight which ended up in a collision, as they talk about their friendship too.

It was somewhat inevitable for Red Bull’s Verstappen and McLaren’s Norris to come together at some point in the course of F1 2024 season. It eventually happened in Austrian GP at Red Bull Ring and not once but after four attempts from the Brit.

Verstappen at a healthy lead in the first half of the grand prix but Norris never let him off with the gap more or less hovering around the seven seconds. The second pit stop opened the gates where a slow stop allowed the Brit to be roughly two seconds behind him.

Using the new set of medium tyres against a scrubbed one, Norris could apply the pressure which he did so. He tried for the inside line for most of his attempts at Turn 3 but couldn’t make it stick. He did go off at one point and had to give back the place.

Before the eventual collision, Verstappen went off too but retained the lead. Having tried the inside line, Norris went for the outside approach when their rear tyre touched and there was immediate puncture to both their cars as they were forced to limp back home.

While Norris retired, Verstappen managed to continue and was handed a 10s penalty. The Dutchman was handed the penalty for moving to his left which caused the collision. The Brit too had a 5s time penalty for track limits violation.

Both were dejected after the grand prix as Verstappen noted about taking some time before talking to Norris – once the hot air is blown up. The Brit put the blame on the Dutchman, while the latter was defensive about the Brit’s moves.

Racing, collision –

Norris: “I mean, there are rules for what you’re not allowed to do and allowed to do. He was doing things you’re not allowed to do and not getting penalised. I expected a tough battle against Max, I know what to expect. I expect aggression and pushing the limits and that kind of thing, but all three times he’s doing stuff which can easily cause an incident. And in a way a bit reckless. It seemed a little bit desperate from his side. It doesn’t need to be, he’s got plenty of wins. A bit desperate to not let me pass, I know, it’s going to be aggressive. I’m in a way not surprised, but I just expected a tough, fair, respectful on the edge bit of racing and I don’t feel like that’s what I got him into.”

Verstappen: “I think the first stint was quite good, then at the end of that first stint I caught quite a bit of traffic. We should have boxed for me, personally, because I just gave up free lap time. We basically did a lot of things wrong today, I think starting with strategy. The pit stops were a disaster. The first one was really bad, the second one even more of a disaster, and then you give free lap time — 6s over those two pit stops. [Of course, then] it’s a race again and that’s why we put ourselves in that position. Unfortunate…for an accident to happen between us, which you never want to happen, but we did everything wrong that we could have done wrong today.”

Changes anything –

Norris: “I don’t think I need to change anything I’m doing. I mean, I was on the edge of the track, I didn’t know what else I’m going to do. He’s always been a bit like that. I respect Max a lot and what he can do and what he goes out and does every time he’s on track, but there’s times when I think he goes maybe a little bit too far. And I feel like today is a little bit of that. It’s one incident and at the same time, I know these things happen. I’m disappointed. He ruined my race, destroyed my car. These are the best bits on the car [now] for the bin. We don’t have a lot of space in the battle that we’re in, in terms of upgrades and budget cap and things like that. My whole car is destroyed and these are all the bits that we need for next week. It’s not just a repercussion of what happens on the track, it’s everything that we have to carry in Silverstone and be disadvantaged by. I just expected a bit more from him.”

Penalty enough –

Norris: “I mean, I don’t want to talk about it too much, that’s for you guys to decide. I do what I can, try to drive a good and fair race. Like I said, it is just not what I got in return from his side. I don’t care about the rest honestly, it is not for me to decide the penalties and things like that. I feel like what he did to us was unfair for our side, three of the times, no warning was issued, he did it again the final time and ruined both our races, so that’s it.”

Verstappen: “I knew that he was on the black and white flag. As for my penalty, I’ll look back at it but 10s seems a bit severe for me, because I didn’t feel like it was anything kind of aggressive, going on in that move.”

Movement under braking –

Norris: “The thing is with that, a little bit of movement is always going to happen. But he’s completely reacting to what I was doing. And once you’ve committed so aggressively on the brakes, you don’t leave room for getting off and allowing a bit more space in the middle of a braking zone. When you’ve committed, you’ve committed and he would move which forced me to move and therefore I would lock up or do something. But at every point before he moved I was not locked up, I was not out of control. My moves were fair until I had to react to something he did in the middle of a braking zone. And I can’t, you don’t have grip, you’re not able to – once you’re on the edge – just adjust and counter these kinds of things. At the same time, if I am not able to move like I was, then we’re going to have more collisions. I’m happy with what I did. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Verstappen: “For me, it was not moving under braking because every time I moved I was not braking already. Of course from the outside it always looks like that. But I think I know fairly well what to do in these scenarios. Also a few of those [Norris moves] were really late divebombs, so it was a bit of sending it up the inside and just hope the other guy steers out of it, which is not always how you race. But it’s just the corner here lends to that as well. I’ve been in the other position as well when you go for it and it’s just the shape of the corner. The move we got together was something I didn’t expect because I saw him coming, defend a little bit the inside, then under braking we touch the rear tyres and we both get a puncture from it, which of course is something you don’t want to happen.

“I mean of course I see behind, he was divebombing me before, so I moved a little bit to the right and then he decides to go onto the kerb on the left and we touched with the rear tyre. It is something that I didn’t expect as well. For me, it is just a very unfortunate situation that it happened. That’s what I meant with the divebombing. It’s just standing it up late and just hoping that the other guy steers out of it and you make the corner, which wasn’t the case. Of course, you can say moving on the braking for me, which wasn’t the case because I didn’t brake when I moved. But it’s also a bit like just sending it up the inside from far, which of course looks good. I like it as well, but sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. And I think today that didn’t work out. But then of course, like I said before, with the contact that we have, it’s super unfortunate.”

Friendship –

Norris: “It is not for me to say, it is for him to say. I don’t know, it depends what he says. If he says he did nothing wrong, then I’d lose a lot of respect for that. But if he admits to being a bit stupid and running into me and just being a bit reckless in a way, then I’ll have a small amount of respect for it. It’s still a tough one to take when we’re fighting for the win. I’m trying to be fair from my and he just wasn’t.”

Verstappen: “We’ll talk about it; not now, it’s not the right time, but we’re racing drivers. Of course Lando and I have a little age gap which is why we never really raced together in lower categories like some other drivers here, but we’ll move on. You never want to think about that. You shouldn’t think like that, that’s also never I thought about stuff. But of course where there are close battles, sometimes these things happen. You never want it to happen. It shouldn’t be [changing], we’re all racing drivers, of course we don’t want to crash with each other. But when you are fighting for the lead, it is always tough battles, it happened today which of course is a shame, I am annoyed, he’s annoyed – I think it is fair.”

Car, strategy –

Verstappen: “Today has been awful, everything has been wrong, I’m complaining about the tyres, we didn’t pit, I was stuck in traffic, bad execution with pit stop, everything went wrong. They [hard and medium] both felt bad, it is not that we did wrong thing with the tyres. My balance in the first stint was not even that bad, but then I don’t know why, the car just got worse throughout the race, that is also something that we have to look into if something broke on the car. It was just very bad, I have no explanation why suddenly the car just transformed from an OK balance in the first stint to just undriveable behavior afterwards. You can say damage limitation with P5, but it’s not what you want to happen for both of us, we are both annoyed, it is not only that Lando is annoyed, I am annoyed.”

Post-race after seeing a bit –

Verstappen: “I mean it’s really unfortunate that it happened I think. Now I have had bit more time to look at stuff but I think in the beginning, the first few moves were from quite far…so whatever happened, it happened. I think where we touched, honestly, it just felt like it was a bit clumsy. When you are in the car, initially you think have I done something wrong? Didn’t I leave enough space? Like half a car width or whatever. Of course, you can always judge or argue about what is the cars width, I honestly think I did leave a cars width on the white line and actually you race hard, like I am not there to give two cars width because then I know he’s going to get me on the exit.

“You race hard for a race win, I think that’s how it should be. As a friend, you never want to touch, you never want to crash, but yeah it happened. At the end of the day, it is part of racing as well. Even though it is not nice, we are both of course disappointed with the outcome but from our side also, we have to look at the whole race because I think we did a lot of stuff wrong. We had two very poor pit stop which also basically put us back and that’s why also we were fighting to the end. We had a very healthy lead and we could have definitely had a bit of a different race if we just executed the race also a lot better.”

Here’s what happened:

Here’s how F1 Austrian GP panned out

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