Ditch the blame game, applaud the Verstappen/Norris Austrian GP battle
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By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
3 min read

Ditch the blame game, applaud the Verstappen/Norris Austrian GP battle

Rob Hansford thinks we should just applaud the battle between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris at the Austrian Grand Prix, not play a blame game.

There will be plenty of debate about who was at fault for the collision between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris in the 2024 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, but there needn’t be.

And before you wonder whether this writer has gone utterly insane, there is method to the thinking.

If you take the emotion out of it, take a step back and look at the final stages of the Austrian Grand Prix objectively, then you’re left reviewing an exciting, gripping race.

Whether you’re a fan of either driver or a neutral, you can’t deny that you weren’t gripped by the battle between the pair after the final round of pitstops.

There was plenty of hard racing taking place between both drivers, with it sometimes going over the line. But while a lot of blame was pointed at Verstappen’s door, he wasn’t the only guilty party during the duration of the fight.

Norris himself too exceeded track limits on several occasions in his pursuit to get past the Red Bull, earning himself a five-second penalty.

The stewards subsequently felt that Verstappen was to blame for the pair coming together, which forced Norris into retirement and he was also served with a penalty, this time 10 seconds for causing a collision.

We can sit here all day and argue who was more at fault, and who should have been served what penalty, but in many respects it doesn’t even matter.

What should be the focus of our attention is the fact that Verstappen and Norris served up a brilliant battle that kept us fully engaged with the race. Yes, it ended in the pair colliding, ending any hopes of either of them winning the grand prix, but that happens sometimes in racing.

Rather than apportioning blame, we should be applauding both drivers for being prepared to go wheel-to-wheel with each other, both in a fairly aggressive manner. Yes, Verstappen may have been the cause of the collision, but it happened because Norris was diving down the inside of the Red Bull to make a move for the lead. And that’s great!

For too long one driver has been dominating F1, and now we have someone willing to challenge Verstappen for race wins. And while it may not have worked out perfectly this time, it still added so much value to what otherwise could have been a boring race.

Granted, it wasn’t the perfect battle, as ideally both would have made it to end with one of them ending up the victor, but there’s nothing to say that can’t happen in the future.

And that’s what is so exciting. Norris has proven that the speed he and his McLaren has is now able to regularly match Verstappen’s Red Bull and therefore, it’s increasingly likely that battles like this could become a more common affair.

That is brilliant for F1 and its fans. We all turn on the TV to watch grand prix after grand prix in the hope of seeing a battle for the win, and a real fight for the championship. 

It might be too late for us to witness a proper world championship battle in 2024, but there’s nothing preventing us from watching consistent fights for race victories going forwards. 

So leave the blame games at the door. Just appreciate the racing we had the privilege of watching, and hope we get to see plenty more of it in the weeks and months ahead.

By Robert Hansford profile image Robert Hansford
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