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Verstappen couldn’t “give a s***” on criticisms, only cares about Norris friendship

Max Verstappen couldn’t “give a s***” about criticisms he faced after Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix, saying his only care is his friendship with Lando Norris.

The Red Bull driver and his McLaren rival came to blows at the Red Bull Ring last week after a frantic battle between the pair for the lead ended with them clashing on lap 64.

The incident at Turn 3 ended up with both drivers getting a puncture, and although Verstappen was able to continue after a pitstop and finish fifth despite a 10-second penalty, Norris was forced out with damage.

The manner of Verstappen’s aggressive defence put him in the firing line of many, with McLaren boss Andrea Stella in particular suggesting that the Dutchman had only acted in that way because he had not been punished for similar incidents in 2021.

While the crash has triggered plenty of debate, Verstappen said he was immune to any slating he has faced.

Instead, he said it was important that he spoke to Norris to run through the events because for him the priority was that the incident did not affect their close friendship.

Asked about the criticism over recent days, Verstappen said: “I don’t give a shit about that. I go home, I live my life. And the only thing that I care about is just my relationship to Lando.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, battle for the lead

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Verstappen said the pair spoke on Monday and, after running through all that happened, they agreed that they should continue racing in a similarly robust way in the future.

“I think we came to the conclusion that we actually really enjoyed our battle,” he said. “We looked at the incident, and it was such a silly little touch that had, of course, great consequence for both of us.

“But we like to race hard. We’ve done this for many years, not only in Formula 1, even like online racing, where we had a lot of fun together. These things have to carry on, because that’s what we like to do. And I think it’s great for Formula 1 as well.”

With Norris having softened his criticisms of Verstappen ahead of the British GP, the Dutchman suggested that the pair of them saw eye-to-eye about almost every aspect of their fight.

“We agree with 99% of everything,” he said. “And naturally, I always said to Lando, when you go for moves at the inside, the outside, you can trust me that I’m not there to try and crash you out of the way. It is the same the other way around, because we spoke about that as well.

“Naturally, there’s always a human reaction when someone dives on 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.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 3rd position, talk after the Sprint

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, 3rd position, talk after the Sprint

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“Of course, like how you design the car, you try to go to the edge of the rules. Maybe you find some grey areas here and there like with the car, and that’s the same how you race – because otherwise you will never be a top driver and you will never succeed in life anyway.”

While Verstappen was heard on the radio complaining about Norris dive-bombing him, he says that was more about trying to get the FIA to intervene to help his own cause.

“You always speak for your own advantage,” he smiled. “That’s what he did. That’s what I did. We all understand that.”

Asked how the pair would approach racing each other in the future, Verstappen said: “We go at it flat out. That’s what we agreed to. Because that’s what we like to do. That’s what’s good for Formula 1 as well.”

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