Home » British GP: What next in Lando Norris vs Max Verstappen heading to Silverstone after F1 drivers’ Austrian crash

British GP: What next in Lando Norris vs Max Verstappen heading to Silverstone after F1 drivers’ Austrian crash

British GP: What next in Lando Norris vs Max Verstappen heading to Silverstone after F1 drivers’ Austrian crash

After a hugely controversial collision between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris at the Austrian Grand Prix, what does the future hold for the pair’s rivalry?

The British Grand Prix is always one of the most highly anticipated weekends on the Formula 1 calendar, but there is undoubtedly extra spice in the air as the sport returns to Silverstone.

For the first time since Verstappen’s 2021 title battle with Lewis Hamilton captivated the sporting world, F1 fans are sensing the birth of another rivalry that has the potential to join the great tussles of the past in the history books.

While Verstappen was the up-and-comer in 2021, the Dutchman is now in the position of trying to maintain his clear status as the F1 grid’s top dog, creating a very different dynamic to the one he experienced three years ago.

Unlike in the case of Verstappen and Hamilton, in this situation there is a genuine friendship between the protagonists, which only adds to intrigue around how the story will play out.

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Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to give his verdict on whether Verstappen or Norris was at fault for the crash

Why more close duels can be expected in 2024 – including at Silverstone

Lap 64, Turn Three of the Austrian Grand Prix may have been the first time that Verstappen and Norris had come to blows in a direct duel for a win in Formula 1, but what certainly wasn’t a surprise was that they had entered the closing stages of the race nose-to-tail on track.

That’s because the trend of the past two months – the unique Monaco GP at the end of May aside – has seen Norris and McLaren provide a consistent, and increasingly competitive, challenge to F1’s world champions and 2024 points leaders. Significantly, their MCL38 appears to have an edge on the Red Bull RB20 on tyre wear later into race stints.

Although McLaren started the season slightly behind where they had hoped to be with their latest design after a stellar second half to last year had lifted external expectations about their 2024 prospects, early-season upgrades swiftly moved them back into the absolute front-running mix against Verstappen and Red Bull.

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Norris and Verstappen engaged in an exhilarating battle before their crash

Norris won for the first time in F1, at the 110th attempt, in Miami from Verstappen at the start of May and then came within one second of pulling off a repeat triumph two weeks later at Imola when he chased down the leading Red Bull to the chequered flag.

After Monaco, when both fourth-placed Norris and sixth-placed Verstappen were left disappointed, Norris felt he should have beaten the Dutchman to victory in both Canada – when he did not pit immediately when the Safety Car came out in a marginal strategy call – and then Spain, when he squandered the advantage of a first pole position in three years and dropped behind the Dutchman and George Russell at the start.

Then came Austria. An early wheel-to-wheel duel with Verstappen in the Saturday Sprint, which Norris rebuked himself for “amateur” driving afterwards having overtaken his rival early on only to be repassed by the Red Bull immediately, was followed by a race that came alive for the McLaren driver after a slow second pit stop for the long-time leader.

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Following Verstappen’s dramatic crash with Norris during the Austrian Grand Prix, we take a look at the five biggest collisions of his F1 career so far

Showing superior speed on slightly newer tyres, he chased Verstappen down and then made repeated bids for the lead over several laps before that controversial lap-64 tangle of rear wheels which triggered simultaneous punctures, for which the Red Bull driver was adjudged by stewards to have been at fault for.

It is against that backdrop that the top two in F1’s Drivers’ Championship head to Silverstone this weekend and a high-speed track featuring sweeping fast corners that should suit both the Red Bull RB20 and McLaren MCL38 – just as it did the team’s 2023 cars, when Verstappen and Norris qualified together on the grid’s front row.

What will the crash do to their friendship?

There’s a fascinating extra layer to F1’s latest developing duel and that’s the existence of a genuine friendship between the star drivers.

It’s long-standing and isn’t just confined to the paddock when they see each other at ‘work’ on grand prix weekends.

Verstappen and Norris have travelled to races together and keep in touch away from the track, such as recently playing padel against each other in their adopted homes of Monaco and, as last year, attending the Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium together during F1’s summer break.

After the acrimonious on-track events of Austria, it’s the state of that friendship which was of particular interest during media day at Silverstone.

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Norris was left fuming after the collision

“For me the only thing I cared about is maintaining my relationship with Lando because we are great friends,” said Verstappen.

“After the race I said we have just let things cool down because emotions run high. We immediately spoke on Monday and I think we came to the conclusion that we actually really enjoyed our battle.

“We both looked at the incident and it was such a silly little touch that had great consequences for both of us, and naturally a little bit more for Lando with how the puncture then evolved. We like to race hard.

“We have done this for many years, not only in Formula 1 even online racing where we had a lot of fun together. These things have to carry on because that’s what we like to do.”

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Verstappen says he was ‘really upset’ by his collision with Norris and insists they have the same opinion on racing each other hard and will continue to do so

Although this is the sixth season that Verstappen, 26, and Norris, 24, have shared the F1 grid since the latter’s arrival at the top level, it’s only really in the past year since McLaren’s re-emergence as a front-running threat that focus has been placed on what a duel for supremacy at the front of F1 might do to the drivers’ relationship.

Famously, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s friendship from childhood crumbled under the weight of direct head-to-head title fights when team-mates at Mercedes.

Norris was also asked about his friendship with Verstappen and whether the Dutchman needs to say sorry for the Austria incident.

“Honestly, I don’t think he needed to apologise,” Norris said. “Some of the things I said in the pen after the race were more just because I was frustrated at the time, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions and I probably said some things I didn’t necessarily believe in, especially later on in the week.

“It was tough. It was a pretty pathetic incident in terms of what ended both our races. It wasn’t like a hit, it wasn’t like an obvious bit of contact. It was probably one of the smallest bits of contact you could have, but with a pretty terrible consequence for both of us, especially for myself.”

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British Grand Prix director Stuart Pringle says he has no doubt that there will be a sell-out crowd at Silverstone for the British GP and is adamant that people will be there to support Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Norris

In public at least, Verstappen did not accept responsibility in his post-race interviews – defending his driving and insisting he had not been moving under braking – although noticeably didn’t take an especially hostile stance towards Norris either.

“I need to look back at how or why we touched,” said Verstappen. “Of course, we will talk about it. It’s just unfortunate it happened.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports News on Tuesday that the pair have spoken since the incident and he doesn’t think “there is any issue”.

Red Bull-McLaren rivalry brewing

In addition to rising tensions between the drivers, there were the first signs in Austria that the contest could spill over to the leadership of their respective teams.

McLaren’s usually mild-mannered team principal Andrea Stella launched a significant verbal attack on Verstappen’s driving style in his post-race interview with Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Norris was given enough space to avoid crashing into Verstappen, while McLaren boss Andrea Stella believes the Red Bull driver was at fault for the incident

Stella recalled Verstappen’s 2021 battles with Hamilton and suggested there was a direct correlation between the Dutch driver not being sufficiently punished for those past incidents, and the way he opted to drive against Norris in Austria.

Perhaps anticipating that we haven’t seen the last of the action between the pair, Stella was urging the sport’s governing body, the FIA, to provide greater clarity on their rules around wheel-to-wheel combat in order to prevent a repeat of Sunday’s wipe-out.

Horner unsurprisingly backed Verstappen and chose to view the collision as somewhat of an inevitable racing incident, while also adding on Tuesday that his driver’s style is “not going to change”.

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Horner thought the collision between Verstappen and Lando was ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’

The Red Bull boss also described Stella’s comments as “wrong and unfair”, with the exchange no doubt likely to continue at Silverstone.

It’s also worth considering that the more McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, a far more outspoken figure than Stella who has clashed with Horner in the recent past, was not in Austria, and will undoubtedly want to weigh into the debate at the first opportunity.

As was the case when Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff provided an entertaining sideshow to the Verstappen-Hamilton battle, the politics and war of words off the track is going to be worth following closely this time around.

The wider implications of the collision

While the clash was bad news for both drivers and their respective teams, the outcome was rather less damaging for Verstappen given he still finished the race in fifth place and scored points.

The 10-second penalty given to the Dutchman by stewards for causing the accident was rendered academic by the fact that sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg was more than double that margin behind him on the road.

With Norris retiring and therefore not scoring, those 10 points Verstappen scored for fifth meant he increased his championship lead over his closest rival to a season-high of 81 points.

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Go onboard with Norris as the McLaren driver overtook Verstappen at the start of last year’s British Grand Prix to take the lead in his home race

That is more than the points equivalent of three race wins and, with the Silverstone weekend marking the half-way point of the 24-race campaign, undoubtedly marks a significant advantage in a car that clearly remains capable of winning lots of races in Verstappen’s hands even if, as he remarked at Barcelona, Red Bull’s dominance of last year is “completely gone”.

Still, a winning run for Norris in the upcoming three races in four weeks before the summer break (Britain, Hungary and Belgium) – when there are 75 points up for grabs in total alone – could show that the second half of the campaign is not yet a foregone conclusion in world championship terms.

It’s a long way back, and a big ask from here even if the McLaren clearly emerged as the grid’s quickest car, but it is not absolutely gone for Lando just yet.

But if not this year…

Why this could be a precursor to a full-on title fight in 2025

Even if Verstappen’s current points advantage is too great for Norris to realistically overturn this year, the battle at the front looks increasingly likely to remain intense on a race-by-race basis heading towards 2025 and the final year of Formula 1’s current regulation era.

That certainly hadn’t been the expectation in the sport, either going into this season off the back of 2023 – when Verstappen and Red Bull had redefined the meaning of domination in F1 – or in the wake of the opening rounds of this campaign when the Dutchman reeled off comfortable wins in four of the first five rounds.

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On the Sky Sports F1 Podcast, Damon Hill discusses the clash in Austria that stole a chance of victory from both

It’s a very different picture now, though.

Although highly fortuitous, Russell’s win in Austria means that all four of F1’s leading teams – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes – have now already won at least one race this year. Mercedes have made steady recent improvement, and are confident there is more to come, while Ferrari, Red Bull’s early-season challengers, believe they will overcome their recent step back in the order and make their presence felt at the front again soon.

Max vs Lando… vs several more? The prospects for the final 18 months of the current rules package are suddenly more promising than they had appeared not too long ago.

Sky Sports F1’s live British GP schedule (all F1 sessions on Sky Showcase)

The British Grand Prix takes place this Sunday live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase

Thursday July 4
1.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference
6pm: The F1 Show

Friday July 5
8.35am: F3 Practice
9.55am: F2 Practice
12pm: British GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F3 Qualifying
3pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: British GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)

Saturday July 6
9.15am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: British GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.15pm: British GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: British GP Qualifying
5pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday July 7
8:15am: F3 Feature Race
9:50am: F2 Feature Race
11:50am: Porsche Supercup
1:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – British GP build-up
5pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
6pm: Ted’s Notebook

F1’s summer triple-header concludes with the big one, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase, with Sunday’s race at 3pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime