Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Red Bull Ring, 2024

Time for Norris to get tough? Six British GP talking points

Formula 1

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The third Formula 1 round in consecutive weekends sees drivers head to the super-fast Silverstone circuit with its enthusiastic crowd for the British Grand Prix.

One of the most popular events of the season with teams and drivers alike with one of the highest multi-day attendances of any round on the calendar, fans will be especially excited for what is likely to be the most open and competitive British Grand Prix for some time – especially as far as the local contingent is concerned.

But F1 heads there amid the fall-out from a controversial collision in Austria which has injected drama into the championship fight. How will the two drivers at the centre of the row when they meet on-track again this weekend?

Here are the talking points for the British Grand Prix.

No more Mr Nice Norris?

Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2024
Norris retired after contact with Verstappen
Heading into the Austrian Grand Prix, Lando Norris and Max Verstappen had shared the top two finishing positions in all but one of the previous six races. It would have happened again had it not been for their now notorious lap 64 collision.

Just one week later, not much time has passed for tempers to cool over a clash which was easily the biggest moment of the season so far. Maybe not in terms of the championship battle – as Verstappen’s lead grew even larger – but because of how the relationship and mutual trust and respect between two drivers whose relationship was previously warm by F1 standards may change as a result of their ill-tempered battle.

But even before that collision, Norris was taught a lesson by the world champion in the sprint race when Verstappen re-passed the McLaren driver into turn four when Norris claimed the lead at turn three. Norris is now fighting a multiple champion for race victories and must learn that using the same approach when fighting for minor points places will not cut it anymore. The gloves are off.

Three potential British winners

George Russell, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2024
Russell heads home as F1’s most recent winner
The British Grand Prix is one of only two events to have been a part of the Formula 1 calendar every season since its inception in 1950, alongside the Italian Grand Prix. This weekend will be the 75th edition of the event, and not many preceding editions can claim to have had as many as three realistic home-grown contenders for victory.

There have been 12 British winners out of the 41 drivers who have claimed victory at this event over the decades – with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton the most successful of all time with a record eight wins. Hamilton would love nothing more than to break his drought by winning here for the final time as a Mercedes driver before he returns in the scarlet of Ferrari next season.

To do that, Hamilton will have to first beat his team mate George Russell who took victory last weekend, and Norris in the McLaren. Neither race winner has taken victory at Silverstone before, while Norris is the only of the pair to take a podium here, which he achieved last year.

Although Verstappen will likely remain the driver to beat, the last few months have shown that he is vulnerable – both in qualifying and during races. With subtle shifts in the competitive order at the front of the field every race weekend and the risk of further incidents between Norris and Verstappen, it is wrong to count anyone out of a potential victory from the top four teams.

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Piastri’s progress

Oscar Piastri, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2024
A track limits call potentially cost Piastri victory in Austria
Last year, the British Grand Prix was when Oscar Piastri announced himself to the world as a Formula 1 driver. In his first race with McLaren’s major upgrades package Piastri qualified third and managed to challenge Verstappen on the opening lap before wisely backing out. If it was not for an ill-timed Safety Car, Piastri probably should have had his first grand prix podium from the race.

This year, Piastri has more experience, speed and motivation – especially after losing a top-three start last weekend with a marginal track limits decision that could have prevented him from getting involved in the fight for the victory. Piastri has finished as runner-up twice in the last four rounds, Monaco and Austria, and will be eager to take advantage of his McLaren’s excellent raw speed to seek out a first race win.

“We maybe had some small question marks about whether we would be as competitive when we went back to, say, a more traditional circuit like Barcelona or Red Bull Ring, where there’s some more high-speed corners compared to Canada and Monaco,” Piastri said after Sunday’s race. “But we’ve had a really consistent car wherever we’ve gone. So I think we can be pretty confident we’ll be in the fight.”

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Aston Martin anguish

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Red Bull Ring, 2024
Aston Martin’s season has been a disappointment so far
Last weekend gave yet more proof – if proof was needed – that Aston Martin are simply struggling for speed compared to their rivals. Despite both Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll finishing the race, neither did so in the top 10. The team have now failed to score points in consecutive rounds for the first time since Alonso joined them in 2023.

Despite being by far the team’s best driver over his first 30 rounds in British Racing Green, Alonso has not looked his usual sharp self at some of the recent rounds. At Imola, Stroll was clearly the better performer of the pair and last weekend in Austria, the same was also true. As a driver who prides himself on being one of the most complete drivers in the field, it is not often that the double world champion appears to suffer a genuine slump in form.

This weekend is, quite literally, a home race for Aston Martin as their state-of-the-art factory is literally metres away from the Silverstone circuit. Everyone in the team will be hoping that they can take some points from their home race. But the team demands much more than this, as the recent announcement of Andy Cowell’s signing underlines.

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Britain’s next F1 driver?

Alongside Formula 1, the stars of the future in F2 and F3 will be on display once again this weekend at Silverstone. British drivers enjoyed a strong showing at the Red Bull Ring last weekend, with Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman winning the F2 sprint race, while Williams junior Luke Browning won the F3 feature race from pole position.

With Bearman scheduled to making one of his free practice participations with Haas this weekend, this would be the perfect opportunity for the 19-year-old to be announced as one of the team’s drivers for 2024…

Williams junior Franco Colapinto will also participate in Friday’s opening practice session, stepping into Logan Sargeant’s FW46 for the first hour of running, and Jack Doohan will return for Alpine.

Lights, camera, action

APX GP filming cars on-track, Silverstone, 2023
The ‘Apex’ crew will be filming again
The grid for last year’s British Grand Prix was unique in that two additional cars joined at the rear. Although neither of these were participants.

Instead, they were prop cars for an upcoming Apple-funded F1 movie produced by Hamilton’s media company, starring Brad Pitt, which is due to be released in 2025. The ‘Apex GP team’ will return to Silverstone this year, with more filming expected to take place across the weekend.

Whether or not the script will be rewritten to feature new twists and turns inspired by some of the dramatic developments of the first half of the 2024 season remains to be seen…

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Are you going to the British Grand Prix?

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Who do you think will be the team to beat in the British Grand Prix? Have your say below.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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28 comments on “Time for Norris to get tough? Six British GP talking points”

  1. No more Mr Nice Norris? – I assume so & he’s already shown that.

    Three potential British winners – Yes, although Norris is, of course, the most likely one in the current form.

    Piastri’s progress – Good & I’m sure he’ll be in the mix for the race start if he manages to stay within track limits.

    Aston Martin anguish – Which will probably keep continuing.

    Britain’s next F1 driver? – Haas should announce Bearman during the event based on what has been mentioned, but a delay is also possible.

    Lights, camera, action – I wouldn’t mind if the script featured references to the ongoing campaign.

    1. I don’t think Norris has shown that much. He’s always been weak when it comes to Max and I don’t see that ending.
      In the sprint race he’d have defended much, much more against any other driver.

      I also don’t see three potential British winners. Two in Russell and Norris, but Hamilton is no where near the form required to win a race. I actually predict a shocker for Hamilton this weekend. I think he’ll be trying too hard to prove something and make a big mistake or go out in Q1. He’s been pushing it in the last few events, being in the drop zone until the last lap and just scraping through in P10-15. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his luck runs out this weekend.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if hamilton performs better, he’s usually good at silverstone, even after 2021 he had some very good races here.

    2. @jerejj
      delator

    3. if he manages to stay within track limits.

      You say that as if Piastri is known for exceeding track limits at every track… he (allegedly) exceeded it on one important lap. Which is really not all that uncommon.

  2. I do not think Lando needs to get tough. He’s had the faster car for quite some races now. He needs to mature and avoid unnecessary minor mistakes. This track will suit McLaren well and pole and a win are definitely on the cards for Lando!

    1. Indeed mature is the right frase.
      His childish tantrum ” we only be friends again if he apoligizes” does not bode well.
      He has the skills and the car but things do not come together yet.
      Impatience and overboiling frustrations cost him the win and resulted in a badly damaged car.

      1. It will be his pivotal element. If he shakes this off he can become one of the greats. His skills are there, now his head needs to be there as well. Time will tell. The potential is definitely there!

      2. His childish tantrum

        It was 2 seconds after the race, straight to the media, and they pressed both drivers immediately for their opinions on their friendship. It was really quite sickening to see, almost as if they are hoping to tear it apart. I hope both drivers have managed to put it behind them, it would be really unnecessary to make what happens on the track personal.

        1. almost as if they are hoping to tear it apart.

          I am touched to see you still believe it might not be the case. Unfortunately this is exactly what they are hoping for. Even more; they are creating/staging it.

    2. I didn’t see any unforced errors (other than perhaps spinning up a flat rear likely before he knew he had one), it doesn’t appear to be easy passing someone that treats sim racing and track racing the same way (perhaps correctly in this case as there are effectively no consequences).

      1. Norris could have go on the kerbs there was plenty of space, that’s an error for me, sure he is not obligated to do so because Verstappen needs to leave a car width but what is better for Norris, stay ground and bang wheels, maybe crash if the cars hit just right or just go a bit left, complain on the radio about Max pushing him off and survive for another go around?

        Every driver that you hear on the radio complaining about being pushed off has made the same choice to fight for another day instead of just stay there and crash, it’s not fair sure but is usually smarter.

        1. Yes, I guess as mclaren looked faster towards the end, norris was the one who could afford to avoid crashing and try again, he still had plenty of laps, and only take a high risk approach in the end.

        2. In a split second failing to know that Verstappen will choose to run him off the track when the apex is the other direction? Yup, fair enough.

    3. I think saying mclaren was the fastest car for several races is definitely an exageration, there’s been races where it was pretty even, but I can’t say it was faster on balance anywhere but miami, for example in austria norris was only faster in the last stint, majority of the race verstappen was faster.

      1. And not only did the slow pit stop threw his advantage away, he put on used tyres for that last stint, whereas Norris’s were new ones. That’s why he had nothing left to defend himself and had to use the questionable tricks we all know so well. Nothing to do with the car.

        Definitely a mistake by the team not to save a new set for the race. Max had the pace to easily go through each Q and start on pole with just 3 fast laps.

      2. I am talking about the car, not about the drivers. The McLaren is for 5 races clearly the fasted package. Max is so far able to compensate what the RedBull is lacking, that’s why we have a fight at all. Put two Perez in the RedBull and it will be a mid-field team at best. McLaren just needs more stable drivers. Both are huge talents, so over time I do not see any issue at all, but at this point in time the team could do better and that is in the hands of their drivers. Piastri can (& will) improve in the area of race pace and Lando can improve in the area of consistency and mental resilience.

        1. With Perez being the reference, then any team would be a middle field team.

          Perez had a great Mercedes clone car in 2020 and spent half the season behind Stroll in the standings without podiums even. Only on the final races he got some good results with that lucky win and 2nd place in Turkey that put him ahead of drivers that had a much better season than him, like Ricciardo.

          But it’s funny, indeed : When Max opens a 10 second gap to Norris, it’s him, when Norris cuts that gap down, it’s the car.

    4. “Mature” being the key word.
      Does he really think because he is “friends” with Max that the latter is going to be a gentleman and treat him any different than, say, HAM? It will never happen.
      No true champion would have done it differently – there are no “friends” when the race begins.
      Lando needs to grow up – Piastri is mentally stronger than him at this point.

  3. The difference is that Norris won 1 race. He wants more and every wasted opportunity counts. Max won 60 already and can spare some just to make sure Norris does not win.

    I expect Max to keep being the agressive one just like in ’21 when he did all that because a double DNF was good for him.

  4. On the current grid, only Leclerc and Russell, maybe Piastri, seem able to deal with Verstappen without too many incidents. He’ll only cede to move that’s precise, 60+% in favour of the passer and decisive. On the inside. 50% and we get a situation like Copse at Silverstone with Hamilton. Defending on the outside he’ll push to the edge and over, not leaving room (which he did twice to Norris, before and after their collision). Attacking it’s just 40% in his favour and elbowing his way past.
    The problem for Norris is that Verstappen already ‘knows’ when Norris will give way – or thinks he does. I suspect he never unlearns how other drivers react: he prefers to try to get them to revert to more passive mode. So if Norris goes more aggressive, they’ll collide again. In Verstappen’s thinking, losing points in one race is worth it if he can train a rival not to try passing him unless it’s basically an easy pass.

    1. I’m guessing it’s a correct reasoning by verstappen if it’s really his strategy, he has such an advantage on the championship that if he can sacrifice some points to make an opponent more submissive it’s worth it.

      1. I think he’s always had that mindset. Maybe with some drivers he’s more recently been inclined to give way knowing he can re-pass later in the race (but not, say, in the case of rivals like Hamilton). It’s Schumacher-esque, maximum technical skill, aggression/intimidation and pushing rules to the very limits and sometimes well beyond. 2021 showed him it was worth it. And again in the Austrian GP, he increased his points gap to Norris. Job done.

        1. I believe Hamilton has a similar mindset, even more ruthless to an extent. When Albon was with RedBull and showing some promise Hamilton twice sent him wide or into a spin from good positions. I felt it was Hamilton showing Albon to fear him and give him more room in future duels. I believe he took a similar approach to Piastri, but I don’t believe Piastri was/is intimidated. I might not have the track correct but I think in Imola Hamilton past Piastri and then moved back across, assuming Piastri would move to avoid an incident, which he didn’t, and maybe in Miami a similar situation were Hamilton tried to push Piastri wide into a wall that caused another incident.

          To me, it is good to see, I like how max does it too, right on the limit of what is acceptable, true brinkmanship.

          1. If it’s acceptable, then it’s acceptable, I guess :)
            However, that does mean that the race director and stewards become much more implicated in terms of deciding acceptability. A few ‘new rules’ where introduced when Hamilton was pushing the envelope earlier in his career (on how to return a place, weaving to break a slipstream etc). In 2021 Verstappen was on that boundary all the way to Brazil, then Jeddah, when he went over it but wasn’t adequately penalized. Which is why those questions seem to have resurfaced in relation to Norris (and his team McLaren recalling the 2021 season and its officiating).
            However, there’s also a psychology at work. I think Hamilton presumed Albon and Piastri would give space, but he was also unfamiliar with how they would react and learnt accordingly. Hamilton is generally pretty observant of how other drivers drive and adjusts – past exceptions included Massa and Maldonado who, I think, he just found unpredictable/wild/poor at racing. Verstappen is a bit different in that he kind of insists on his way and getting drivers to adjust to him. His racing with Leclerc, especially in 2022, was notable as Leclerc seemed to mirror his aggressive style very closely, telling Verstappen in effect that he would drive exactly like him and for Max to make his racing decisions accordingly (expect the same as he would do). That works fairly well. But I’m not sure Norris can imitate that – or only after a number of collisions with MV.

  5. how the relationship and mutual trust and respect between two drivers whose relationship was previously warm by F1 standards may change as a result of their ill-tempered battle

    I was sad to see Sky pounce immediately on this storyline after the race, trying to extract headlines to really play up this take (which this site felt it had to run also.) I for one hope to see them calm and still friends. Friendly competition should be the ethos of all sports, and especially motorsports. I hope they can be a beacon for the modern age that grudge-warfare has no place in professional sports.

    Although given the childish behaviour of so many in F1 (maybe it’s the fumes?), I am afraid that won’t be the case.

    1. I am afraid you are right. They both take it on with some powerful toddlers at Media circuses. Their intent is to destroy everything since it delivers headlines. I am afraid the two of them need some level of superhuman strength to oppose to this. It’s a pity and no one can address the media or try call them out since then they resort to the censorship/freedom of speech argument. They are like a modern plague. People are willingly played, like sheep going to the butcher.

  6. Funny that this particular corner seems to become the “coming of age” corner for “young drivers”: Charles had his first clash with Max there and now Lando had the same. Maybe it’s where both of them decided to race Max harder and I’m all for it :D

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