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Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix 2024

Why Verstappen must fear Norris in Austrian GP

Max Verstappen might have taken a comfortable Austrian Grand Prix pole position - but the threat of Lando Norris remains.

Verstappen Norris Qualifying Spain
To news overview © XPBimages

On the face of it, the Austrian Grand Prix looks a done deal given Max Verstappen's dominance of the sprint and grabbing pole by a staggering four-tenths of a second around such a short lap. 

The Red Bull driver's margin over Lando Norris in qualifying was a crushing display at one of his favourite and strongest tracks. From such a position of authority around the Red Bull Ring, it seems unlikely he can be challenged.

We already have undisputed evidence to point such an assumption when you consider how easily Verstappen pulled away to win the spring after early battles with the McLaren pair of Norris and Oscar Piastri. 

That result, however, was a mirage - based on Norris' race.

In the opening stages, Norris easily kept Verstappen within the DRS range and used this to launch an attack for the lead into Turns 3 and 4. The Briton eventually slid up the inside of Turn 3 on the brakes.

But in what he then called an "amateur" move, Norris left the door open for Verstappen that allowed him to divebomb up the inside of Turn 4, forcing both wide.

This then allowed Piastri into second place, but the Australian could not quite keep up with Verstappen who gapped Piastri outside of the DRS. Race done!

Verstappen vs Norris

Verstappen was about two-to-three tenths per lap faster than Piastri, with Norris again best placed to take the fight to Verstappen. 

As the table below shows, after Norris had dropped to third, he was faster than Piastri but slightly slower than Verstappen, although many of the laps were close, and was able to use the 11kph extra the DRS provided to haul himself back into contention for P2 in the sprint, although Piastri just prevailed. 

View below the lap times of Verstappen, Piastri and Norris below from the moment Piastri lost the DRS on Lap 11.

The Austrian Grand Prix is not cut and dried for Verstappen. There is an opportunity for Norris. Will he be able to take it?

Lap times sprint race Austria: Verstappen, Piastri, Norris

11. 1:09.572 1:09.714 1:09.538
12. 1:09.575 1:10.005 1:09.656
13. 1:09.543 1:09.800 1:09.509
14. 1:09.627 1:09.610 1:09.407
15. 1:09.500 1:09.800 1:09.837
16. 1:09.801 1:09.945 1:10.028
17. 1:09.579 1:10.065 1:10.079
18. 1:09.700 1:09.962 1:09.903
19. 1:09.649 1:09.979 1:10.100
20. 1:09.981 1:10.145 1:10.032
21. 1:09.955 1:10.153 1:10.220
22. 1:09.933 1:10.214 1:10.046
23. 1:10.094 1:10.482 1:10.506

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