Norris: Verstappen was 'reckless' in Austrian GP

SPIELBERG, Austria — Lando Norris has labelled Max Verstappen’s defending at the Austrian Grand Prix “stupid” and “reckless,” and said he will lose respect for the three-time world champion if the Dutchman claims to be the innocent party in their collision.

With seven laps remaining in the race, Norris made his third attempt to pass Verstappen for the lead at Turn Three, only for the pair to collide as the Red Bull driver squeezed him towards the outside of the track.

The incident resulted in punctures for both drivers, allowing George Russell to take the victory while championship leader Verstappen recovered to fifth place and Norris retired with extensive bodywork damage.

The stewards found Verstappen “predominantly” to blame for the incident and handed him a 10-second, in-race penalty.

“I expect a tough battle against Max,” Norris said after the race. “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 that can easily cause an incident, and in that way it’s just a bit reckless.

“It seemed like a little bit desperate from his side, it doesn’t need to be. He’s got plenty of wins, but a bit desperate to do what he could to not let me past.

“I know he’s going to be aggressive so I’m in a way not surprised. I just expected a tough, fair, respectful on the edge bit of racing, and I don’t feel like that’s what I got.”

The two drivers are friends away from the track, and Verstappen was among the entourage who joined Norris to celebrate his first F1 victory in Miami earlier this year.

Asked if they would still be friends after Sunday’s collision, Norris added: “I don’t know. It depends what he says. If he says he did nothing wrong, then I will lose a lot of respect for that.

“If he admits to being a bit stupid and running into me and just being a bit reckless in a way, then I have a small amount of respect for it.

“But it is still a tough one to take when we’re fighting for the win. I’m trying to be fair from my side and he just wasn’t.

“So I don’t know. That’s all I’m thinking about. I don’t care about that now. I’m just gutted for the team.”

When Verstappen was asked for his take on the incident, he referenced Norris’ previous attempts to pass at Turn Three and said he did not expect the McLaren to arrive on the outside of the corner.

“Of course, I see behind he was dive bombing me before so I moved a bit to the right and of course he decides to go the kerb on the left, and then we touch with the rear tyres,” Verstappen said.

“It’s something I didn’t expect to happen as well, for me just an unfortunate situation that it happened.

“I’ll look back at it but [a penalty of] 10 seconds seems a bit severe for me, I didn’t feel like it was anything kind of aggressive going on in that move.”

Asked if it might damage his relationship with Norris, Verstappen added: “It shouldn’t, we’re all racing drivers, of course we don’t want to crash with each other

“But when you’re fighting for the lead and it’s getting close, it happened today, which is of course a shame. I’m annoyed, he’s annoyed, I think that’s it.

“We’ll speak, but it’s not the right moment now.”

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