Friends again: Norris, Verstappen make up after Spielberg drama

Max Verstappen at Silverstone on Thursday after clearing the air with his friend Lando Norris (BENJAMIN CREMEL)
Max Verstappen at Silverstone on Thursday after clearing the air with his friend Lando Norris (BENJAMIN CREMEL)

Max Verstappen on Thursday welcomed the restoration of his friendship with Lando Norris after the Briton had said he did not expect any apology from the three-time champion following their crash last Sunday.

The Red Bull driver said he and Norris had spoken last Monday, following their controversial collision in the Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg, and had quickly agreed that they should continue to race each other hard in the same way.

"I said after the race that there’s no point in discussing it now because emotions are running high," said the Dutchman.

"And then I woke up early and immediately because I wanted to talk to Lando, of course, but he had already texted me in the morning on Monday.

"So on the day afterwards, your emotions are a bit lower so actually I respected that a lot -- and we are great friends and he's a very nice guy, honestly.

"So I was really upset and disappointed that we had got together because on the track we race each other hard, but as a friend you are disappointed that this could happen.

"But we very quickly said that we had to race each other hard because that is what we like to do and we have always done that not only in Formula One but also on-line and stuff and that's what we enjoy with each other – battling hard and that is what we will continue to do."

The 64th lap collision came with Norris attempting to pass the three-time world champion and series leader for the race lead and resulted in both cars suffering punctures.

Verstappen rejoined after a pit-stop and finished fifth after being given a 10-second penalty for causing the crash while Norris pitted and retired.

- 'A lot of adrenaline' -

McLaren's Norris, who trails Verstappen by 81 points in the drivers’ title race, had taken the sting out of their argument by admitting he had over-reacted.

But, he said, he still held reservations about the incident and how it was managed by the race stewards.

"Honestly, I don’t think he needed to apologize," the 24-year-old Briton conceded.

"Some of the things I said in the pen after the race were more because I was frustrated at the time.

"(There was) a lot of adrenaline and emotions and I probably said some things I didn't necessarily believe, especially later on in the week. It was tough. It was a pretty pathetic incident, in terms of it ended both of our races.

"It wasn’t like a hit. It wasn't like an obvious bit of contact. It was probably one of the smallest bits of contact you can have, but with a pretty terrible consequence for both of us, especially for myself."

"I don’t expect an apology from him," said Norris.

"I don't think he should apologise. I thought it was, as a review, good racing. At times, maybe, very close to the edge, but like I said, we’ve spoken about it, we’ve talked about it and we’re both happy to go racing again."

Verstappen, asked by Sky Sports F1 if he was concerned by the reaction to the incident, Verstappen added: "No, the only thing I care about in my life is that I am getting on well with Lando."

"Naturally, I always said to Lando, when you go for moves up the inside, outside, you can trust me that I’m not there to try and crash you out of the way.

"Same the other way around because we spoke about that as well. There's always a human reaction when someone dives up the inside or outside that you have a bit of a reaction to it, but I felt everything that I did was nothing massively over the top.

"Like how you design a car, you try to go to the edge of the rules, maybe you find some grey areas here and there as a car -- and that’s the same how you race, otherwise you will never be a top driver and you will never succeed in life anyway."

Asked if he felt it was possible to remain friends with a rival driver, he said: "It depends a bit on your personalities.

"I know Lando. He's a great guy, a really nice person who loves F1, very passionate about it. You have to realise he’s fighting for his second potential win, I’m fighting for my 62nd.

"I think naturally your emotions are a little bit different. I know that from myself, when I was fighting for these first wins in F1, but that’s fine."