Max Verstappen accused of “fiendish defending” in crash with Lando Norris

Max Verstappen's defence against Lando Norris in Austria has been labelled as "fiendish".

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren…

Max Verstappen has been accused of “fiendish defending” in his controversial collision with Lando Norris at the F1 Austrian Grand Prix.

The close friends and rivals came to blows during a fierce battle for victory in Austria on Lap 64 of 71 at the Red Bull Ring, with both drivers ending up with damage which wrecked their respective shots at the win.

Norris was forced to retire, while Verstappen recovered to the pits before finishing fifth, meaning he was still able to extend his championship lead.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 podcast, Damon Hill analysed the incident which he believes “robbed a fantastic climax to the race”.

“The tension built up beautiful and I think we were a little bit robbed of a fantastic climax to the race,” said the 1996 F1 world champion.

“We’ll never know what the outcome would have been. It looked to me like Lando had the pace and that’s why Max had to do his, well, I’m going to call it fiendish defending, I’m sorry.

“Because I think that Max has got a reputation of not willingly giving up the lead without a massive fight. Okay, if you know that about Max, you have to approach him with a great deal of caution.

“But we have got these rules about how you go about racing. Now, the question is, did he break those rules? Or did Lando get a little bit too defensive in his rights as a racing driver to stand his ground?

“I think there was an element of, when he put his car in the position of the outside, he could have gone onto the kerb, but he decided, no I’m not moving. He’s not supposed to change line and he’s supposed to be give me enough room and the collision happened.

“It was sort of inevitable, it was sort of coming for a few laps.”

Verstappen was hit with a 10-second time penalty for the crash but Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft questioned whether the punishment was sufficient.

“I don’t know if 10 seconds was enough,” he said. “In terms of the guidelines the stewards work to, I can understand why they gave that 10 seconds.

“In the end it had little or no bearing on his result after he came in to change tyres. Lando of course lost out and retired after serving his five-second penalty for the track limit violation.

“I’m not going to lead the calls for Max to get a grid penalty for the next race but was a 10 second penalty enough considering that his move resulted in one driver retiring and him costing his own chance of a win.”

Hill added: “Well I don’t know what the rules are for penalties as they can be applied. It might be that they can only apply a 10 second penalty.

“There again, I think that the FIA who governed the race and the way that the race is run, they should be able to apply a penalty if they think that something is unsporting or bad driving and they want to reprimand it and they want to stop it.

“This is the rot question. It was brought up by Andrea Stella and also Martin [Brundle] during the race commentary. He said if you don’t do anything about it when it happens, it will happen again.”

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