Lando Norris “got under Max Verstappen’s skin” in Austria, according to 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who talked up Norris’ racecraft as “one of the best I have seen in years”.

Having emerged as a consistent threat to Verstappen at the front in F1 2024, Norris went to battle with his Red Bull rival for the win once more in Austria, though this time the result was contact at Turn 3, which resulted in punctures for both drivers and a 10-second time penalty for Verstappen for causing the collision.

Message sent from Lando Norris to Max Verstappen?

While the friendship between Norris and Verstappen remains intact after some tension in the immediate aftermath, on track, Villeneuve believes that Norris successfully got under Verstappen’s skin as he takes the fight to the previously dominant Dutchman.

With Norris retiring after their shunt, while Verstappen was classified P5, Mercedes’ George Russell came through to claim a second career victory.

Speaking to OLBG, Villeneuve said: “Lando got under Max’s skin. Max knows he has someone to fight against, which is a change. He hasn’t felt like this since his first Championship against Lewis.

“It was just a question of how many races he could win. Now you have someone who can take wins away from him and even championships. And not because he is in a better car but because he can outdrive him.

“That is what will get to Max and why he was stressed at the end of the race. You could hear it in his radio comments. It is not a position that Max is used to. He has never been in that defensive position.”

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Villeneuve believes Norris made the right choice in holding his line in that Verstappen battle rather than going off, even though the result was contact, as that “sends a message” to Verstappen, as Villeneuve spoke very highly of Norris’ racecraft.

“Lando could have gone off track because there was asphalt,” said Villeneuve, “but he did the right thing to hold his line.

“It sends a message to Max. They will be fighting against each other often in the future if they are fighting for the Championship. It was important to let Max know: ‘ Hey, don’t bully me. I am here!’

“Lando deserved to win that race the way he has been driving lately.

“The racecraft he has is one of the best racecrafts I have seen in years. It is very old-fashioned. He can read the race, and where to put his nose. It is very, very impressive.

“You could hear how he managed to put Max under pressure, even psychologically. That was amazing.

“At the end of the day, Max got points, Lando didn’t, so Max actually increased his lead in the Championship which is very frustrating for him.

“But at least Max knows now. I hope Lando stays tough like he has been. It is needed for the coming battles. It was an important statement from Lando that he would not back down.”

Villeneuve says Norris has become a “proper fighter” and a “proper racer”, suggesting that claiming his first F1 win in Miami may have been the catalyst.

“We always knew Lando could be quick. But now for quite a few races this year and at the end of last, he has stepped up. You can see the difference,” Villeneuve claimed.

“I don’t know if it was the win in Miami. The first one often does that.

“His shoulders now seem to be twice as big. He has gone from just being a quick driver to being a proper fighter and a proper racer and a driver who can fight for a championship. It is so impressive.”

Verstappen holds an 81 point lead over Norris at the top of the F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings.

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