Lando Norris' timid U-turn on Verstappen row could make him look weak (2024)

Lando Norris was almost as timid on Thursday as he was coruscating after the Austrian Grand Prix, where he called Max Verstappen 'reckless, stupid and desperate' after their collision on 64 laps.

The British driver, heading to Silverstone as a home-crowd favourite and with a good chance of victory for McLaren, overreacted in his patent disappointment to see his race end so miserably at Spielberg. And by backing down now, he is in danger of appearing weak. Would Ayrton Senna have gone into reverse?

It is advantage Verstappen in this particular arm-wrestle.


The triple world champion used his experience wisely in not taking a swipe at Norris in the immediate aftermath, even though he considered their coming together a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other. And it is Max who is meant to be the hothead.

Yes, he is sharp-elbowed and the hardest man in the world to pass. He is also a master craftsman and his defensive skills were clearly irking Norris, who tried everything he could to press his claims, his own desperation rising as he was thwarted at every attempt.

Lando Norris , 24, was furious following the race in which he collided with Max Verstappen

Norris (left) andVerstappen made contact during lap 64 of what had been a tense battle

One is the acknowledged champion, right at the top of his game; the other in super form, driving wonderfully well, but his frustration multiplied by a few errors that cost him possible wins in the past three rounds.

Norris was more relaxed at Silverstone, his adrenaline having dissipated. He and Verstappen spoke twice this week and you get the sense that neither man wanted a good relationship soured over a couple of punctures. Verstappen, for his part, promised Norris that he could trust him in close combat.

Read More Max Verstappen says Lando Norris can 'trust him' after Austrian GP collision

Norris rowed back, saying that no apology was needed (quite rightly) and declined the chance for overt criticism. 'Max has a very different way of racing compared to others and that is one of the reasons as to why he is a world champion,' said Norris.

'It is clear how he races. It is tough, on the limit, and what I love. There are things I need to do differently but he (Verstappen) is not going to change too much. Could we have avoided the crash? Definitely. I could have used more kerb.

'There are things from both sides we could have done better or in a different way. Avoiding an incident from moving under braking is the biggest part of it. There could very easily be an incident that comes from such a thing and we have to be careful of that.

'That is something the stewards and the FIA need to be aware of because something could easily go wrong.

'To a certain point you are defending, being aggressive and that is OK, but there is a point where there is a limit and that needs to be defined in a better way.'

McLaren team principal Andrew Stella suggested that Verstappen's aggressive style was fostered by the stewards having been too lenient during his battles with Lewis Hamilton in 2021. Norris agreed with his boss. He was trying to please everyone without committing himself too strongly in any direction.

Norris (right) and Verstappen (left) are friends again after their clash

Norris added: 'Some of the things I said after the race were because I was frustrated. There was a lot of adrenaline, lot of emotions and some of the things I said I don't necessarily believe in.

'It was a pathetic incident in that it ended both of our races. It was a small bit of contact, but with terrible consequences for both of us, especially for me.

'Yes, I complained and said certain things on the radio, just as every driver would. But we don't want to take away wheel-to-wheel racing and have too many rules.

'I have overreacted in a way, but clarity over certain things is what is needed.'

Norris (pictured in the pits) did not finish following his late collision with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton's memory for his past deeds is patchy. But asked for his favourite Silverstone recollection, he reached straight at the answer. It was his first win here in 2008.

Read More Silverstone boss defends £439 ticket prices for British Grand Prix as celebs like Brad Pitt arrive

In soaking wet conditions, he drove amphibiously to win by 68 seconds, while all around him slipped and slithered. Felipe Massa, his title rival spun five times. Lewis's mastery echoed Ayrton Senna's brilliant win in the rain at Donington 15 years before.

In my imaginary estimation, Hamilton's heroics that day stand as his best win anywhere ever. The closest contenders to that ranking are:

2) Brazil, 2021 – 10th to victory after 25-grid place penalties across the sprint weekend. What a fighter.

3) Japan, 2007 – His first great wet win in the foothills of Mount Fuji. He arrived like a boy from another galaxy that rookie season.

4) Italy, 2018 – Booed and hissed by the Tifosi, a win that haunts Monza. Patience and panache, passing Kimi Raikonnen out of Parabolica to take the lead.

5) Turkey, 2020 – From sixth to victory by 31 seconds and a record-equalling seventh world title.

Lewis Hamilton's favourite Silverstone memory is his first win back in 2008 (above)

Once described as a country fair masquerading as an international event (copyright, Bernie C Ecclestone), Silverstone looked a picture on Thursday morning ahead of the influx of fans on Friday.

Prices for three days start at £339. A lot, admittedly. But I am told it will be a sell-out with a crowd of some 163,000 expected on race day. The biggest muster for UK sport event this year. Not even Taylor Swift can beat that.

Two celebs spotted here. Brad Pitt on the track for the new Formula One movie. But, if you want a real A-lister, Luke Littler, holding a darts challenge with the drivers.

Luke Littler played darts with the drivers in the paddock on Thursday afternoon

Lando Norris' timid U-turn on Verstappen row could make him look weak (2024)
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