Lando Norris has claimed Max Verstappen “took a very easy route” out of their Austrian Grand Prix battle by going off the track to keep the lead prior to their collision at the Red Bull Ring. 

And the McLaren driver has called for a fix to the “pretty stupid” rule that saw him hit with a five-second penalty moments before he dramatically clashed with his Red Bull rival.

Lando Norris: Max Verstappen ‘didn’t try’ to make corner in Austria

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper

Norris and Verstappen made contact while duelling for the lead on Lap 64 of 71 in Austria last weekend, with both drivers suffering punctures in the incident.

Norris, who was racing with a five-second time penalty for excessive track limits breaches hanging over him at the time of the collision, was forced to retire after making his way back to the pits.

Verstappen, meanwhile, was classified fifth – extending his points lead over the McLaren man to 81 – despite being hit with a 10-second penalty for causing a collision.

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The clash between the pair occurred one lap after Norris appeared to have snatched the lead with a bold move under braking at Turn 3, only for Verstappen to take to the run-off area on the exit of the tight right-hander and rejoin ahead of the McLaren,

Speaking to media including ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Norris claimed Verstappen “didn’t try” to stay on track.

Asked if Verstappen should have been investigated for running off track to stay in front, he said: “Hm-hm.

“I think Max could have made the corner, honestly. He didn’t try, which is probably the main fact of it.

“In this part of [the battle], I didn’t squeeze him. It wasn’t like I was side by side and almost pushing him off. He took a very easy route out of it.

“It’s complicated. It’s not as simple as just saying ‘this happened, that happened’ and there should be a different outcome.

“Of the whole thing, that was probably the little bit that I almost didn’t understand the most and the gap he had out of the corner was bigger than what he had going in.

“So in a sense of him going off track and gaining an advantage, he was actually the one that did it in that case – especially with the fact that I didn’t even push him off.

“There just needs to be some clarification on things and I think there needs to be consistency from this point onwards, because if that’s clear what we can do then I think everyone’s happy but it just can’t keep changing from one weekend to another.”

Norris – who also backtracked on his calls for Verstappen to apologise in Austria – was frustrated that he was hit with a five-second penalty after running wide in an attempt to pass Verstappen on Lap 59, despite giving the position back to the Red Bull driver at the very next corner.

The McLaren man felt the time loss for ceding position to Verstappen was already a “clear enough penalty”, warning that F1 risks dissuading drivers from trying to overtake if botched moves result in penalties.

He said: “I got the five-second [penalty] for trying to overtake and it not going correctly.

“I didn’t even know I had the five-second penalty. I didn’t even know why.

“We served the five-second penalty before we retired the car – I didn’t even know that’s what we did until after the race.

“That’s just common sense. That’s pretty silly, to be honest.

“I’ve tried to do an overtake, I’ve locked up, I’ve gone off the track, I’ve then had to avoid the sausage kerb, but immediately I gave the position back to Max.

“So I probably lost a second and a half in doing that. It’s a clear enough penalty, I’ve lost out in doing such a thing.

“It’s just silly. And those types of things will avoid people racing.

“If you don’t want us to race and don’t want me to try to ever overtake and you want a boring race, then you can have these rules.

“I’m sure it’s something that’s already been brought up, because there’s a difference between going off track and gaining an advantage – and it’s the gaining advantage bit which is the most important – and then there’s going off because you’ve made a silly mistake, you’ve not judged something perfectly.

“The fact I get punished for that – especially in a racing situation, especially when I’ve given up even more time – just doesn’t make sense.

“It’s something I hope they fix quickly because I think it’s pretty stupid.”

Asked if McLaren should have requested a review into the affair, he added: “It’s tough.

“The more I’ve thought about things, the more I just thought a lot of it was just racing.

“Yes, I complained and said certain things on the radio and stuff like that, like every driver would. If they say they wouldn’t, they’re probably lying.

“Every driver would do it. Max was doing it. I did it.

“But at the same time, I just came away from it just thinking it was good racing.

“It was tough and at times I thought maybe a bit too far, but at the same time it was good. It’s what people want to see and we wanted to do that all the way til the end. We want to do it til the last lap, that’s what we love to do.

“So we don’t want to take away the fact of just racing and going wheel to wheel and have too many rules in this case, so I definitely think I probably overreacted in some way, but it’s a new thing to me in many aspects too.

“So just clarity over certain things is what’s needed. Apart from that, I’m happy to go out and race hard and do what we did last weekend.”

With Norris losing ground to Verstappen in the Drivers’ standings in Austria, the British driver claimed consequences of on-track collisions should “definitely” be taken into account on certain occasions.

Yet the 24-year-old appeared to question whether Verstappen should have penalised at all given the relatively minor contact between the cars at the Red Bull Ring.

On the potential for punishments matching the consequences of an incident going forward, Norris said: “It’s tough.

“As drivers, I think sometimes we say it should be, sometimes we say it shouldn’t be.

“At times you don’t want the consequence to be taken into account, but also at times I think it definitely should be taken into account.

“It’s a very tough one because our incident was so tiny, so for what it was I don’t think it really should have been a big penalty at all – or even a penalty [at all] at the end of the day.

“But considering it put me out of the race and took me out of a chance of winning a race, then it definitely adds a lot more to the facts.

“And if we had a big enough lead and he could still go on to win the race or something, then yeah.

“I just think it needs to be taken into account in some ways, but understanding how and how much and where that line is, I think, is a complicated and difficult thing.

“So it’s something I’m sure we’ll have to speak about, the FIA and drivers, but not an easy thing to have a rule for.”

Asked to clarify if he believed that Verstappen did not deserve a penalty in Austria, he added: “No comment.”

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