RTL Today – Quick scrap: Austrian Grand Prix

RTL Today – Quick scrap: Austrian Grand Prix

George Russell may have taken victory at the Austrian Grand Prix, but it was the manner in which Lando Norris exposed Max Verstappen’s vulnerability that gave all the leading contenders faith and hope ahead of the upcoming high-speed British Grand Prix.

A high-speed race, in which the three-time Red Bull champion attempts to extend his lead over friend and McLaren rival Norris, is now a clear prospect at Silverstone, where Mercedes and Ferrari are also likely contenders.

AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from Sunday’s dramatic events at the Red Bull Ring:

– Aggressive Verstappen loses composure –

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella blamed Sunday’s crash on the FIA’s failure to crack down on Verstappen’s “aggressive-defensive” driving in the past, particularly in 2021 when he was battling seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes for the title.

Norris described the Dutchman’s moves as “dangerous” amid complaints from both drivers that the other was breaking the rules before stewards opted to punish Verstappen with a 10-second time penalty.

“We don’t want a second time in 2021,” Stella warned, referring to the Dutchman’s dangerous moves on Hamilton, particularly in Italy and Brazil.

“This was not a good point for Formula 1 racing. It may have been entertaining, but not for good reasons.”

Pointing to the resurgence of Verstappen’s reflexive aggression under pressure, he said: “If you don’t deal with these kinds of things honestly, they come back.

“They came back because they were not addressed in the past when there were fights with Lewis that required more severe punishment.

“The rules must be enforced effectively.”

The 26-year-old champion’s aggression not only jeopardized their cars and races, but also his friendship with Norris. Norris left expecting to apologize before they raced again.

Verstappen received two penalty points on his super license after the race, but did not want to apologize.

As expected, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner defended his man. However, the move did nothing to ease tensions within and around the troubled Red Bull team after he and Max’s father Jos Verstappen fell out again last weekend.

– Unlucky Leclerc can challenge from the front –

The hapless Charles Leclerc, who finished 11th after a race that included an incident on the first lap – sandwiched between two other cars in turn one – and four pit stops, knows he and Ferrari can fight back and be competitive.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will be replaced by Hamilton next year, finished third behind Russell and Oscar Piastri and showed what he could have done on a circuit where Leclerc beat Verstappen to win by a wide margin two years ago.

– Russell victory signals Mercedes revival –

George Russell’s victory was a reward for his perseverance and for the hard work of Mercedes in improving their car with a series of upgrades that indicate a continued recovery is underway.

Both Russell, who claimed his second career victory, and Hamilton, who finished fourth, praised their team and cars afterwards, with team boss Toto Wolff admitting his enthusiasm led him astray.

After the leaders’ crash gave Russell his chance, Wolff went on the radio to encourage Russell. “George, we can win this,” he shouted as the driver entered a braking zone at high speed.

“It was the stupidest thing I’ve done in 12 years at Mercedes,” Wolff said. “I’ll always be ashamed of it. I didn’t look where he was – you don’t do that under braking or in high-speed corners.”

Wolff’s emotions confirmed that the team is finally on the way back after a first victory in 33 attempts since the 2022 São Paulo Grand Prix, which was also won by Russell.