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Max Verstappen

Verstappen smashes 'thin veneer' as 'razor blades on elbows' return

Did the old, over-aggressive Max Verstappen reappear at the Austrian GP? A former F1 driver believes so.

Norris Verstappen Austria
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Max Verstappen has been accused of resorting to his old tricks that exposed "a thin veneer" over his character in the heavyweight Austrian Grand Prix clash with Lando Norris.

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle remarked during his commentary of the race at the Red Bull Ring that Verstappen was "reverting to early years Max" by "getting the razor blades on his elbows into the braking zones".

It was a reference to his defensive manoeuvres that angered Norris who felt the three-time F1 champion was committing a cardinal sin of moving under braking.

In the closing stages of the race, after McLaren driver Norris arrowed in on Verstappen's Red Bull after the 26-year-old endured a slow pit stop, two attempts to overtake into Turn 3 saw the Briton go off track, and then the Dutchman.

On lap 64, the brewing battle culminated in another Norris attack that resulted in Verstappen moving across on his friend, again seemingly under braking, resulting in their collision, a puncture on each car, the retirement of the MCL24, and a 10-second time penalty for the Red Bull driver.

Brundle has made it clear in his Sky Sports F1 column that he saw shades of the 'old Max' resurface in the fight with Norris, one that was often heavily criticised for his over-aggressive defensive moves.

"Clearly angsty in the cockpit especially after the slow stop, Max was getting ever more aggressive in his defence, really pushing the limits of acceptable driving in close combat with late moves in the braking zones, but just about getting away with it," said Horner.

Assessing the collision specifically, Brundle asked: "Did he [Verstappen] know he [Norris] was there? He confirmed post-race that he did, he's on top of it all well enough. They touched and it finished Norris' race and left Verstappen limping home for three-quarters of a lap with a puncture.

"What I found alarming is that after the contact, and as they were both limping along, Verstappen clearly tried to impede and collect Norris if he could.

"Verstappen would get a 10-second penalty for the turn three contact, but such was his pace thereafter on fresh tyres it mattered not, as he recovered to fifth place, actually increasing his championship lead to the angst of many."

Verstappen 1.0 returns

In general, Brundle felt Verstappen went beyond the line of acceptable driving, something he recognised from his past.

"In commentary, and in these columns, I've waxed lyrical about Max's talent, and I stand by that, he's one of the very best I've ever witnessed in 40 years," remarked Brundle.

"I've also said that he's calmed down, matured, and plays more the percentage game with three championships in his pocket.

"But that appears to have been a thin veneer as this race was very much Max 1.0, with his default driving tactics and denials resurfacing."

Brundle, though, did not reserve all his criticism for Verstappen as he felt Red Bull was also culpable, whilst there were words, too, for Norris who played his part in the drama.

"To hear the Red Bull team on the radio after the race telling him [Verstappen] it was all Norris' fault was a difficult listen," said Brundle. "It damages their credibility all around.

"It was clear Norris would get a five-second penalty for track limits and the whole thing was totally unnecessary for Red Bull.

"It must also be said that Lando's racecraft was rather gung-ho. He'll need more finesse, patience, and cunning than that if he wants to start beating Max regularly to win a championship."

Also interesting:

In the latest RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian, Sam and Nick discuss the Austrian GP and look ahead to the British GP. Max Verstappen and Lando Norris' shocking clash is a HUGE talking point, as is Toto Wolff's radio blunder!

Rather watch the podcast? CLICK HERE!

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