Dramatic clash between Verstappen and Norris gives Russell victory in Austrian Grand Prix

A dramatic collision between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris gave George Russell and Mercedes their first Formula 1 win in a year and a half at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was in complete control of the first two-thirds of the race, holding a lead of up to eight seconds over Norris.

But a long, unhappy stint in the middle on the hard tyres that he didn’t particularly like, and then a final slow stop where the left rear tyre initially refused to release, meant Verstappen was back just ahead of Norris.

Then the McLaren – on medium tyres versus the Red Bull’s used tyres – quickly got into Verstappen’s DRS range and launched attack after attack, with the drivers’ comments on the radio increasingly heated about each other’s driving.

A dive with 12 laps to go put Norris ahead at Turn 3, but he took the finish line after going off the track over a watercourse, quickly regaining the position.

That moment turned out to be Norris’s fourth track-limit breach of the race, resulting in a five-second time penalty, but with the penalty not yet awarded the battle continued.

The next time they came close, it was Verstappen who stayed ahead by going off the track.

Then came the contact on the approach to the sharp bend, which punctured both cars’ tires and sent them off the road before a bizarre battle between the two cars down the hill as both cars swayed due to the damage they had sustained.

Norris decided the damage to his car was too great and retired to the pits, but Verstappen came back to finish fifth. The stewards ruled the champion was at fault for the clash and imposed a 10-second penalty. It made no difference to his result.

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Barring an early clash with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Russell had been clearly the best of the rest behind Verstappen and Norris throughout the race, so was ideally placed to pick up the pieces after their encounter and claim a landslide victory.

But Norris’ team-mate Oscar Piastri is right to feel robbed.

A controversial track limit penalty in qualifying dropped him from third to seventh on the grid, but he fought back well – passing Charles Leclerc at the start despite contact between them that broke the Ferrari’s front wing, making easy work of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, then passing Hamilton and Carlos Sainz during the race before finishing just 1.9 seconds behind Russell.

Sainz completed the podium, while Hamilton finished a distant fourth after a race that saw a time penalty for crossing the pit lane on his first stop with a wild spin.

Haas had an exceptional points-scoring race with Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen in sixth and eighth respectively, in a car no less powerful than Red Bull Perez.

Early first stops and excellent tyre conservation contributed to Haas’s result, with Perez limited by damage sustained on the first lap by the Piastri/Leclerc brush.

Leclerc could only recover to 11th after right-back duo Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly – who played another wild dice with Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon – rounded out the scorers.

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