Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

A dramatic collision between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris handed George Russell and Mercedes a first Formula 1 victory in a year and a half at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen had absolutely dominated the first two thirds of the race, leading by as much as eight seconds from Norris.

But an unhappy long middle stint on hard tyres he didn’t especially like and then a slow final pitstop where the left rear tyre initially refused to release meant Verstappen rejoined only just ahead of Norris.

The McLaren – on new mediums versus a used set for the Red Bull – then quickly got into Verstappen’s DRS range and mounted attack after attack, with the two drivers’ radio comments about each other’s driving getting increasingly terse.

A dive with 12 laps to go got Norris ahead into the Turn 3 hairpin but he claimed the line by running wide over the run-off so quickly handed the place back.

It would turn out that that moment was Norris’s fourth track limits breach of the race, which incurred a five-second time penalty, but with that yet to be awarded their battle continued.

Next time they got alongside each other it was Verstappen who stayed ahead by running wide.

And then the contact came on the approach to the hairpin, a rub of wheels giving both cars punctures and sending them slewing off the road before a bizarre wheel-to-wheel battle down the hill with both cars lurching around with damage.

Norris ruled his car’s damage was too great and he retired in the pits, but Verstappen rejoined to finish fifth. The stewards ruled the champion was at fault for the clash and applied a 10s penalty. That made no difference to his result.

Apart from an early dice with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Russell was clearly best of the rest behind Verstappen and Norris throughout, so was perfectly placed to pick up the pieces after their clash and claim an ecstatic victory.

Norris’s team-mate Oscar Piastri has every right to feel robbed, though.

A contentious track limits penalty in qualifying dropped him from third to seventh on the grid, yet he fought through well – clearing Charles Leclerc at the start despite a brush between them that broke the Ferrari’s front wing, making light work of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, then overtaking both Hamilton and Carlos Sainz during the race before finishing just 1.9s behind Russell.

Sainz completed the podium, with Hamilton a distant fourth after a race featuring a time penalty for slewing over the pit entry line at his first pitstop with a wild slide.

Haas pulled off an exceptional race to score points with both Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen in sixth and eighth respectively, sandwiching no lesser car than the Red Bull of Perez.

Early first pitstops and excellent tyre conservation set up Haas’s result, with Perez limited by damage having been involved in the first-lap Piastri/Leclerc brush.

Leclerc could only recover to 11th as Daniel Ricciardo’s RB and Pierre Gasly – who had another wild dice with Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon – rounded out the scorers.

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#Dramatic #VerstappenNorris #clash #hands #Russell #Austrian #win

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