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Verstappen's emerging rivalry with Norris goes another round at British GP

Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Lando Norris McLaren Max Verstappen and Lando Norris - Getty Images

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) — Max Verstappen's emerging rivalry with Lando Norris goes another round at the British Grand Prix this week and this time Norris has home fans behind him.

Sunday's Formula 1 race follows their crash at last weekend's Austrian GP, the home race of Verstappen's Red Bull team. It cost both drivers a victory chance and ended Norris' hopes of a second win after the Miami GP.

Norris retired his McLaren and felt let down by Verstappen, saying the Red Bull driver impeded him by moving under braking. Norris cleared the air with Verstappen when the friends spoke twice this week.

“I don’t think he should apologize. I thought it was good racing, at times very close to the edge, but we’ve spoken about it and we’re both happy to go racing again," Norris said on Thursday. “Some of the things I said in the (TV) pen after the race were more just because I was frustrated at the time. A lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions."

Verstappen's main concern was protecting their friendship.

“He’s a great guy. Of course he loves racing, he’s very passionate," Verstappen said. “You also have to realize he’s fighting for his second win, I’m fighting for my 62nd. Naturally, your emotions are a little bit different.”

Verstappen also has 106 podium finishes compared to Norris' 19, and in pole positions leads him 40-2.

Verstappen felt Norris may have panicked a bit.

“I always said to Lando, when you go for moves up the inside, outside, you can trust me that I’m not there to try and crash you out," Verstappen said. “I felt everything that I did was nothing massively over the top."

Another heated incident at Silverstone could change that and jog some memories.

At the 2021 British GP, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided heavily on Lap 1 at the high-speed Copse corner. Verstappen went to hospital for checks and Hamilton won.

It sparked a bitter feud lasting until the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi, where Verstappen overtook Hamilton after a controversial restart to win his first world title and deny Hamilton a record-breaking eighth.

Observers have drawn comparisons between Silverstone 2021 and Austria 2024 with Verstappen coming in for some unfair criticism, according to his former Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

“People are probably hammering Max a bit," said Ricciardo, who now races for the RB team.

He defended Verstappen as an “elbows out” and “tough" racer who imposes himself. He knows that given they raced together from 2016-18, the year they collided at the Azerbaijan GP and scored no points.

Ricciardo said the late incident at the Red Bull ring, where Verstappen recovered from a puncture to finish fifth and extend his championship lead over second-placed Norris to 81 points, was blown out of proportion.

“It was hard, but you're also fighting for a win. So you're not going to just wave someone by,” he said. “The outcome was bigger than what was actually happening on the track. Was it pushing the edge? Probably. But was it anything dangerous or reckless? From what I've seen, no.”

Mercedes driver George Russell, who benefited from the late crash to win in Austria, seemed to agree.

“Max is one of the best and he’s a hard racer,” Russell said. “He’ll push the rules to the limit, as all the top drivers do.”

British hopes

Home fans could be in for a treat with three British drivers — Norris, Russell, Hamilton — possibly in contention.

There is fresh hope in a season producing five different race winners in 11 races, compared to just three in 22 in 2023 with Verstappen winning a staggering 19.

Verstappen has seven wins this year while Ferrari duo Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc have one win each.

Although Hamilton has won Silverstone a record eight times, the 39-year-old British driver has not won anywhere since the penultimate race of the 2021 campaign.

There have been a smattering of podiums, including third place at the Spanish GP last month. But what he desperately needs, in his final season with Mercedes before joining Ferrari, is a record-extending 104th F1 win.

Fading results

Sergio Perez's new contract with Red Bull through 2026 has had an adverse affect, with his form dropping.

In three races since penning that deal, the Mexican driver has failed to finish one and not placed higher than seventh in the other two.

There was speculation earlier this season he could be replaced next year and such rumors could re-emerge if the rut continues — even with a new contract.


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