Home Sport Gloves off for next round of Norris vs Verstappen at Silverstone

Gloves off for next round of Norris vs Verstappen at Silverstone

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The third race in three weekends comes after McLaren’s Norris and Red Bull’s triple world champion Verstappen collided while battling for the lead in Austria, handing victory to a delighted George Russell.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (left) with third placed McLaren’s Lando Norris after qualifying in pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, in Japan last year. Picture: REUTERS, Issei Kato

Alan Baldwin, in LONDON – The gloves are off for the next round of Formula One’s big fight between Lando Norris and Max Verstappen at Silverstone this weekend.

With three home drivers, all race winners, and four winning teams so far this season, the British Grand Prix looks a lot more competitive than last year.

The third race in three weekends comes after McLaren’s Norris and Red Bull’s triple world champion Verstappen collided while battling for the lead in Austria, handing victory to a delighted George Russell.

The Mercedes driver and seven times world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton, who has won a record eight times at Silverstone, will hope to be back in the mix at a circuit where Verstappen won last year.

“I think we’re riding a bit of a wave at the moment,” said Russell. “You always dare to dream for sure. Anything can happen.”

The clash between Norris and Verstappen, hardly a surprise given how the season has been building up, was the biggest incident from 11 races so far with Silverstone marking the halfway point.

While Verstappen extended his lead over Norris to 81 points, his driving and temperament have been called into question.

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella turned up the heat by saying Verstappen had been allowed to get away with too much in the past while Norris made clear he wanted an apology from the champion as their friendship buckled.

The chances of that happening look remote, and Norris will have to steel himself.

Fans would be advised to grab the popcorn and enjoy the fireworks.

“We know we have a fast car that can compete for wins at every type of circuit, which makes us excited for the rest of the season,” said Norris.

“Getting a podium last year in Silverstone was amazing, but I know that winning at a home race would be next level.”

The race is also a home one for Red Bull, celebrating their 20th anniversary with a special livery at the 75th edition of the race since the championship started in 1950.

“We want to make everyone at home back in the factory proud this weekend,” said Verstappen, alluding to “mistakes in the race (in Austria) that really cost us” while highlighting a sprint win and two poles.

“We are analysing what we did right as well as what went wrong … we want to come back fighting in Silverstone,” added the Dutch driver.

Verstappen has won seven times this season and he and Norris had occupied the first two places in five out of six before Austria. The pair were one-two at Silverstone last year.

Australian Oscar Piastri was second for McLaren in Austria and is getting closer to his first F1 win.

“Last year was an incredible weekend for us as a team, kind of the start of our resurgence,” he said. “I think we’ve got a strong car and I think 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.”

Ferrari won at Silverstone with Carlos Sainz in 2022, the Spaniard’s first F1 victory, but high-speed corners have been the car’s weakness.

“We know Silverstone is the king of the high speed, so we need to do a step,” said Sainz. “And we are going to … try to find everything we can to make ourselves more competitive there.”

Australian reserve Jack Doohan will take part in first practice with Renault-owned Alpine and Argentine Franco Colapinto will do the same at Williams.

Reuters

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris

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