Home Sport Three things we learned at the Red Bull Racing Ring

Three things we learned at the Red Bull Racing Ring

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

Formel 1 – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Großer Preis von Österreich 2024. George Russell Formula One – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Austrian GP 2024. George Russell

George Russell may have landed the victory at the Austrian GP but it was the way Lando Norris exposed Max Verstappen’s vulnerability that gave belief and hope to all the leading contenders ahead of the coming high-speed British GP.

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

Here, we look at three things we learnt from Sunday’s dramatic events at the Red Bull Ring.

Aggressive Max loses cool

Team boss Andrea Stella of McLaren placed blame for Sunday’s crash between Verstappen and Norris that ended the latter’s race on the FIA’s failure to clamp down on Verstappen’s “aggressive-defensive” driving in the past, notably in 2021, when he fought seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes for the title.

Norris described the Dutchman’s moves as “dangerous” amid complaints by both drivers that the other was infringing on the rules before the stewards chose to punish Verstappen with a 10-second penalty.

“We don’t want to see another 2021,” warned Stella, recalling the Dutchman’s dangerous moves on Hamilton, notably in Italy and Brazil.

“This was not a good point for F1 racing. It may have been entertaining but not for good reasons.”

He pointed to the re-emergence of Verstappen’s reflex aggression under pressure, saying: “If you don’t address these things honestly, they come back.

“They came back because they were not addressed in the past when there were fights with Lewis that needed to be punished in a harsher way. The regulations must be enforced in a way that is effective.”

The 26-year-old champion’s aggression risked wrecking not only their cars and races, but also his friendship with Norris who departed expecting an apology before they compete again.

Verstappen was given two penalty points on his super-licence after the race, but declined to apologise.

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner predictably defended his man, a move that did nothing to ease the tensions in and around the troubled Red Bull team after a weekend when he and Max’s father Jos Verstappen fell out again.

Luckless Leclerc can challenge at front

The luckless Charles Leclerc, who finished 11th after a race featuring a first-lap incident – sandwiched between two other cars at turn one – and four pit-stops, knows he and Ferrari can bounce back and be competitive.

Outgoing teammate Carlos Sainz, due to be replaced by Hamilton next year, came home third behind Russell and Oscar Piastri and showed what might have been at a track where Leclerc beat Verstappen and won well two years ago.

Russell win hints at Silver Arrows resurgence

George Russell’s victory was a reward for his tenacity and Mercedes’ hard work in improving their car with a series of upgrades that signal a sustained resurgence is under way.

Both Russell, who claimed his second career win, and Hamilton, who finished fourth, praised their team and cars afterwards, while team boss Toto Wolff admitted he allowed his enthusiasm to lead him astray.

After the leaders’ crash gifted Russell his opportunity, Wolff went on the radio to encourage Russell. “George, we can win this,” he screamed, as the driver went into a braking zone at high speed.

“It was the single dumbest thing I have done in 12 years at Mercedes,” said Wolff. “I will forever be ashamed of this. I didn’t look at where he was – you don’t do it in braking or high-speed corners.”

Wolff’s emotions confirmed the team are finally on the way back after a first win in 33 attempts since the Sao Paulo Grand Prix of 2022, also won by Russell.

AFP

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