Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (2024)

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (1)Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (2)

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  • Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (8)
Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (9)

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Having spent two years sailing predominantly solo at the front of the field, Max Verstappen is suddenly under significant pressure again in Formula 1.

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The triple world champion’s eminently agitated reaction to that pressure has set the 2024 season alight.

F1 HEADLINES: Verstappen frustrated by Red Bull dispute as star exposes ‘EMBARRASSING’ FIA decision

READ MORE: Mercedes star lands SHOCK win as Verstappen and Norris collide

In Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen appeared to be breezing towards a comfortable, third consecutive victory, before a slow pit stop from his Red Bull team dropped him into the clutches of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Max Verstappen and Lando Norris battle hard in Austria

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (16)

As the Brit bore down on the gearbox of Verstappen’s Red Bull, the usually unerring Dutchman began driving desperately and arguably dangerously, weaving on the straights to block Norris’ path forwards before moving very late in the braking zones to make it impossible for his rival to pass.

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Verstappen had reverted to his 2021 self – here he was refusing to yield, refusing to finish second, refusing to lose face, choosing to cause a collision rather than risk losing out to his closest challenger, as he did on so many occasions when fighting Lewis Hamilton for his maiden title three years ago.

The 26-year-old has evolved into a much more mature, consistent and efficient driver since then, those developments largely aided by the fact that his dominance of the championship has rendered his competitors little more than sporadic annoyances in the vast majority of races in F1’s new era.

But, in Styria, he took all of those steps back, even down to his refusal to accept responsibility for the incident after the race, in which he finished fifth with a time penalty while Norris was forced to retire.

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READ MORE: Verstappen SLAMMED with FIA penalty after Norris collision

Max Verstappen's post-race reaction

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (17)

“From the outside, it’s hard to see when I brake,” Verstappen told the media post-race

“I know in the past that has always been a bit of a complaint. [But] I always turned my wheel before I braked. I think that everyone can have their own opinion but I’m the one driving. Whatever… it’s what happens."

Verstappen even went so far as to suggest that both Norris and the profile of the corner were at fault: “I felt like sometimes his divebombs are so late on the brakes,” he added.

“I think it’s also the shape of the corner which provides these kind of issues sometimes. It’s never nice to come together. It’s unfortunate that happened.”

Lando Norris' emphatic verdict

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (18)

A dejected Norris, on the other hand, was emphatic in his view on the collision.

“I don’t know what to say. Disappointed, nothing more than that honestly," Norris said in the media pen. "It was a good race, I looked forward to just a fair battle, a strong fair battle. But I wouldn’t say that’s what it was in the end.

"Tough one to take, it was a mistake-free race from my side and I felt like I did a good job, but got taken out of the race. Nothing more than that."

Norris continued, later adding he'd lose more respect for Verstappen if he refused to accept responsibility for his actions.

"If he says he did nothing wrong, then I lose a lot of respect for that," Norris answered to the media when quizzed on his and Verstappen's friendship.

"If he admits to being a bit stupid and running into me and just being a bit reckless in a way, then I’ll lose a smaller amount of respect for that.”

FIA action could have prevented collision

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (19)

By the time the two came together on Lap 64, a collision seemed inevitable given Verstappen’s clear, bullish insistence that Norris would not be allowed to pass no matter what.

As enthralling as the battle and the chaos the collision led to was, it could have all been avoided had Verstappen’s erratic behaviour rightly been ruled on by F1’s stewards.

Despite the championship leader arguably driving beyond the limits of the rules, the stewards were far too slow to react, only intervening to give Verstappen a penalty once Norris had already been punted out of the race.

READ MORE: Tsunoda receives severe FIA punishment after serious radio incident

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (20)

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella was left understandably furious following the chequered flag, but focused some of his ire on the lack of intervention from F1’s rule enforcers.

“The entire population of the world knows who is responsible,” he raged. “Things were not addressed properly in the past when there were some fights with [Max and] Lewis which were not punished enough. We have so much respect for Red Bull and for Max – they don’t need to do this. This is a way to compromise their reputation.

“It’s about racing within the regulations and the regulations must be enforced in a way that is effective. The punishment must be proportionate. We had before that episode twice moving under braking.”

Therein lies the key – only Verstappen and Red Bull can decide how they behave on track when under pressure. But, if they cross the line, as was the case in Austria, and so many times during their war with Hamilton, then the stewards must use their power to act quickly to rein them in.

Now that McLaren have a car which can genuinely compete with Red Bull’s and that Norris knows the pressure he is putting on Verstappen is starting to worry him, the fair officiating of their fights becomes one of the most important issues in F1.

READ MORE: Newey saga pivots with MAJOR Ferrari ‘loss’

Related

Red BullMax VerstappenMercedesFormula 1Lando NorrisFIA

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Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (23)

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F1 Race Calendar 2024

    GP BAHRAIN29 Feb - 2 MarMax VerstappenGP SAUDI ARABIA7 - 9 MarMax VerstappenGP AUSTRALIA22 - 24 MarCarlos SainzGP JAPAN5 - 7 AprMax VerstappenGP CHINA19 - 21 AprMax VerstappenGP USA3 - 5 MayLando NorrisGP ITALY17 - 19 MayMax VerstappenGP MONACO24 - 26 MayCharles LeclercGP CANADA7 - 9 JunMax VerstappenGP SPAIN21 - 23 JunMax VerstappenGP AUSTRIA28 - 30 JunGeorge RussellGP GREAT BRITAIN5 - 7 JulLewis HamiltonGP HUNGARY19 - 21 JulGP BELGIUM26 - 28 JulGP NETHERLANDS23 - 25 AugGP ITALY30 Aug - 1 Sep

Complete kalender 2024

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F1 Standings

  • Driver
  • Constructors

Driver Standings 2024

    01 Max VERSTAPPENRed Bull Racing25502 Lando NORRISMcLaren17103 Charles LECLERCFerrari15004 Carlos SAINZFerrari14605 Oscar PIASTRIMcLaren124

Full drivers

Constructor Standings 2024

    01 Red Bull Racing Great Britain37302 Ferrari Italy30203 McLaren Great Britain29504 Mercedes Great Britain22105 Aston Martin Great Britain68

Full constructors

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Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (89)

Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (90)

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Why Verstappen's DESPERATE clash with Norris exposes big FIA vulnerability (2024)

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