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Austrian GP: Lando Norris fumes at Max Verstappen move

The controversial ending to the grand prix came at the climax of a race that for a long time looked to be Verstappen’s for the taking.

He had won the sprint race on Saturday – fighting off an ambitious overtaking attempt from Norris, as a consequence of which the Briton lost out on second place to team-mate Oscar Piastri – and dominated the first two-thirds of the grand prix.

But he found his Red Bull behaving worse and worse as the race developed. Towards the end of his second stint, he was pleading to be brought in for fresh tyres, but the team delayed.

Then, when the decision was finally made, Red Bull – normally the pit-stop masters – had a slow, six-second stop. That cost Verstappen four seconds to Norris, who had stopped on the same lap.

Three seconds apart when they left the pits, Norris was 1.7secs behind after one lap and on Verstappen’s tail after two.

Over the succeeding laps, several times Norris made brave, late moves to the inside, only for Verstappen to defend. Norris felt it was breaking the rules on moving under braking. But he himself was already on a warning for exceeding track limits.

When he ran off track again after trying to pass Verstappen into Turn Three, he was penalised five seconds. But he never got a chance to serve it, because the two drivers collided shortly afterwards.

Norris went for the outside this time. Verstappen, who had defended to the inside, moved back to the outside. Norris went on the kerbs. Their rear wheels touched and both suffered punctures.

Verstappen, who said he felt his penalty was “a bit severe”, defended his actions.

“The move we got together was something I didn’t expect,” he said. “I saw him coming, of course. I defended a little the inside under braking. We touched on the rear tyres and we both got a puncture from it and it is something we don’t want to happen.”

As for the accusation that he had moved under braking, Verstappen said: “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 those scenarios.

“Also, he was doing really late dive-bombs and sending it up the inside and hoping the other guys steers out of it, and hope you make the corner, which wasn’t the case.

“It is not always how you race but the corner lends itself to that. I have been in the other position as well where you go for it and it is just the shape of the corner.”

To his credit, Verstappen acknowledged that he has been guilty of this sort of attack in the past himself – notably in 2021 when in his title battle with Lewis Hamilton he repeatedly flung his car up the inside and hoped for the best on exit.

“Sending it up the inside from far,” Verstappen said, “it looks good and I like it as well, but sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, and today it didn’t work out. Then of course with the contact it is super-unfortunate.”

Verstappen actually extended his championship lead over Norris as a result of the incident, and was more concerned about the manner in which his team had slipped from their usual standards.

Operational perfection in the light of others’ mistakes had won Red Bull the Canadian and Spanish Grands Prix. Not managing it in Austria cost them a race that had looked to be a lot more comfortable in terms of their relative pace.

“Everything has to be perfect to win and we have done that well for a lot of races and today we did everything wrong and then you put yourself in this position,” Verstappen said.

“We are both annoyed. It is not only that Lando is annoyed. I am also annoyed.”

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