Max Verstappen admits relationship with Lando Norris was ‘only’ concern after Austrian Grand Prix

It seems that cooler heads have prevailed in the wake of the collision between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The collision ended any chance at either driver capturing the victory at Red Bull Ring, and with emotions running high in the media pen after the race, there were concerns that the incident could drive a wedge between the friendly rivals. But now both drivers have had their say at the British Grand Prix, and it truly appears that Norris and Verstappen have turned the page.

Norris gave his views during the FIA Press Conference on Thursday, and speaking with Sky Sports F1 Verstappen shared his thoughts, leading with how quickly he reached out to Norris and how “upset” he was by the entire incident.

“That’s why I already said after the race, there’s no point to discuss it now. Emotions are running high and stuff like that,” began the Red Bull driver.

“I woke up already quite early because I wanted to talk to Lando but he already texted me, in the morning on Monday. I think the day after your emotions are a bit lower. I respected that a lot. And we are great friends. He’s a very nice guy, honestly. And of course I was also really upset and disappointed that we got together because naturally, of course on the track you race each other hard, but as a friend as well, you’re very disappointed that happened.

“But I think also quite quickly, when we were talking, we had the same opinion of we have to race each other hard because that’s what we like to do and that’s what we’ve always done. Not only in F1, even when we used to race together online and stuff like that, that’s what we really enjoyed about each other – battling hard, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

As Norris noted during the FIA Press Conference, Verstappen enjoyed the battle, despite the climactic conclusion that knocked both drivers out of contention at Red Bull Ring. Verstappen even noted how the two have battled both on-track, and in the virtual racing world.

“For me the only thing I cared about is maintaining my relationship with Lando because we are great friends. After the race I said we have to just things cool down because emotions run high. We immediately spoke on Monday and I think we came to the conclusion that we actually really enjoyed our battle,” said Verstappen.

“We both looked at the incident and it was such a silly little touch that had great consequences for both of us, and naturally a little bit more for Lando with how the puncture then evolved,” continued the Red Bull driver. ”We like to race hard. We have done this for many years, not only in Formula 1 even online racing where we had a lot of fun together. These things have to carry on because that’s what we like to do and that’s what we like to do as well.”

Verstappen indicated that he told Norris that the McLaren driver can “trust” Verstappen not to aim to “crash him out” the next time they tangle on the track.

“We agreed with 99 per cent of everything, which I think is quite a lot already. Naturally, I always said to Lando ‘when you go for moves on the outside or inside, you can trust me that I’m not there to crash you out of the way’. Same the other way around, because we spoke about that as well,” said Verstappen.

“Naturally, there’s always a human reaction when someone dives on the inside or outside that you have a reaction to it. But I felt everything I did was nothing massively over the top. Like how you design a car, you try to go to the edge of the rules, maybe find some grey areas here and there. That’s the same with how you race, otherwise you will never be a top driver or succeed in life.”

When Verstappen was asked about the reaction he might receive at Silverstone — a home race for the McLaren driver that is likely to have a very pro-Norris crowd — Verstappen conceded that one thing matters above all, and it is not the reception he will receive this week.

“The only thing that I care about in my life is that I’m getting on well with Lando,” said Verstappen.

While the speculation coming into the week centered on the incident, and how the two parties would move forward, it seems Norris and Verstappen have put this issue to bed.

Now we all wait to see their next battle on the track.

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