Advertisement

Verstappen & Norris 'both happy to race' after clash

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen took victory at last year's British Grand Prix with Lando Norris finishing second and Lewis Hamilton in third place [Getty Images]

Max Verstappen says he and Lando Norris "agreed with 99% of everything" when they discussed their Austrian Grand Prix clash this week.

The pair, who collided while fighting for the lead at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, resume battle at the British Grand Prix this weekend.

Verstappen revealed he "cared about maintaining his relationship" with Norris because "we are great friends".

During their talk this week, the world champion said he told the McLaren driver they could trust each other when racing closely.

Verstappen added: "We go at it flat out - that's what we agreed. That's what we like to do and that's what's good for F1 as well."

Briton Norris said: "It's clear how he races. It's tough, it's on the limit, it's what I love. I thoroughly enjoyed the fight I had with him.

"The more I've thought about it, the more I think it's just racing. It was good racing, very close to the edge at times. We've spoken about it and we are both happy to go racing again."

Their battle ended when they touched while Norris was trying to overtake Verstappen around the outside and both suffered punctures, a collision for which the Dutchman was given a 10-second penalty.

Verstappen recovered to finish fifth while the damage caused to Norris' McLaren forced the 24-year-old's retirement.

Verstappen said: "The only thing I cared about was maintaining my relationship with Lando because we are great friends and thats' why I said after the race we had to let things cool down because emotions run high.

"We spoke on Monday and we came to the conclusion that we actually really enjoyed our battle.

"We like to race hard. We have done this for many years not only in F1, like online racing where we had a lot of fun together, and these things have to carry on because that's what we like to do and it's great for F1."

Verstappen added he had reassured Norris about his intentions when they are racing.

"I always said to Lando, 'When you go for moves up the inside or outside, you can trust me that I am not there to try and crash you out of the way'. Same the other way around because we spoke about that as well."

'Lando is a great guy, a really nice person'

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris
Verstappen leads Norris in the drivers' championship by 81 points [Getty Images]

Norris had accused Verstappen of changing his line in the braking zone, which is forbidden in F1, and the Dutchman acknowledged indirectly that had been the case.

"Naturally, there is always a human reaction when someone dives down the inside or outside that you have a bit of a reaction to it," said Verstappen. "But I felt everything I did was nothing massively over the top.

"Of course, like how you design a car, you try to go to the edge of the rules, maybe you find some grey areas here and there, and that's the same how you race because otherwise you will never be a top driver or succeed in life anyway."

Norris, who trails Verstappen in the drivers' championship by 81 points, added: "Max isn't going to want to crash and ruin his own chances. I don't think he's going to change too much, and I don't think I need to change much.

"There are things from both sides we probably wanted to do better. But avoiding an incident from moving under braking is probably the biggest thing.

"The stewards need to be aware that something can easily go wrong. You're defending and that's fine, but at some point that has a limit and it needs to be imposed."

Asked if they could remain friends if their battles continued for a long time, Verstappen said: "I think so. It also depends on your personalities. Lando is a great guy, a really nice person, who loves F1 and racing and is very passionate about it.

"You also have to realise that he is fighting for his second win, I am fighting for my 62nd, so your emotions are a little bit different. I know that from myself, when I was fighting for my first wins, that’s what I also said, 'Let's let it cool off'."

Another issue to arise from Austria was that Norris earned a five-second penalty for going off track while trying to pass Verstappen, despite immediately giving the place back, because it was conflated with a warning he had previously been given for exceeding track limits.

Norris himself and Williams driver Alex Albon both said that decision was "silly".

Verstappen admitted it was "a bit of an odd one".

He said Red Bull have an upgrade on their car this weekend, but that he expected the battle to be close on track with McLaren.

Norris' team-mate Oscar Piastri said he expected Verstappen to be "really tough to beat" because of his car's strengths in the sort of high-speed corners that abound at Silverstone.