It was a wild race in Austria with a real sting in the tail.

George Russell had his wicket-keeper gloves on, by dint of a fine drive running in a hard-won if lonely third place, to scoop up the ball and take victory after clumsy combat cost both Max Verstappen and Lando Norris a shot at victory.

Russell was the fifth winning driver in 11 races so far this season, and Mercedes were the fourth different constructor to take victory. It was a thrilling and unpredictable race, but I left the venue disappointed in one aspect.

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Highlights of the Austrian Grand Prix from Red Bull Ring

It was another hectic Sprint weekend with just one 60-minute practice session before heading into Sprint Qualifying on Friday, then the Sprint and main race Qualifying on Saturday, with the Grand Prix on Sunday.

To spice it up, each driver has one less set of tyres than normal, meaning 12 sets of slick dry tyres to eke out through five key sessions including two qualifying formats, on a track with high degradation.

‘Sprint battle provides appetiser’

Verstappen led the 24-lap Sprint from an initially charging Norris before his lunge into turn three forced Max into a successful counter-attack into turn four, which Lando should have covered off. Indeed, Norris lost two places there as Oscar Piastri skilfully slotted his sister McLaren into second place for good.

It was an appetiser for what would follow on race day. Sadly for Piastri, in qualifying he had a harsh track limits call and lost his best lap demoting him from third to seventh. This may well have cost him his first GP victory.

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Max Verstappen held off a charging Lando Norris to win the Sprint

New gravel strips and realigned track-defining white lines did a great job of sorting out the track limits mess over the weekend. Compared to last year’s ridiculous 1200 offences, we had just 16 in this year’s race, five of which were Norris.

To all intents and purposes, the proximity of the gravel, and the existing nasty yellow-painted sausage kerbs in turns one and three, should have been self-policing in that respect, given that you are sure to lose time if you visit any of them.

However, the track limit lines were still being closely monitored. McLaren were livid, claiming that images used were blurred and protocol was inconsistent with other incidents that day, and on previous occasions. But the Piastri decision stood.

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Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to look back on qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix

The performance pecking order, as we like to call it, was clearly Verstappen, McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and then a roll of the dice between Alpine and Haas with RB watching closely. Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull struggled, Aston Martin didn’t turn up to the races, and Charles Leclerc managed to overdrive his fast Ferrari, not for the first time.

It was blazing sunshine all weekend and as the fans cooked in the grandstands so nearly did many brake systems, and degradation of the tyres would be high on longer runs. Also overheating would be some of the drivers’ tempers in the closing stages.

Verstappen led comfortably and pulled out an eight-second advantage, but even in the first stint it was clear that McLaren were faster toward the end of tyre life.

The out-of-position Leclerc and Piastri managed to connect in the first corner which forced the Ferrari into the pits for a new front wing, and effectively out of any sensible race finish without a safety car to close the pack, which never happened. It was one of those unfortunate first-corner shunts.

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Verstappen held an early lead at the Austrian Grand Prix as Oscar Piastri and Charles Leclerc made contact

Piastri continued on his way towards Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari. When Hamilton attracted a five-second penalty for breaching the pit-entry lane, that effectively put Piastri ahead of Hamilton and hunting down Sainz.

This would all play out more importantly than we could have imagined.

‘Max’s default driving tactics resurface’

Up front, Verstappen was struggling for grip and then had a six-second pit stop with a sticky left-rear wheel. This reignited the race with Norris on his tail and gunning for him. Quickly into the one-second DRS zone, Norris relentlessly closed and, just as he had done the day before in the Sprint, lunged towards the inside into turn three.

Verstappen was more ready this time and covered it off. Clearly angsty in the cockpit especially after the slow stop, Max was getting ever more aggressive in his defence, really pushing the limits of acceptable driving in close combat with late moves in the braking zones, but just about getting away with it.

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Norris and Verstappen engaged in an exhilarating battle for the race lead before the pair crashed into one another, as George Russell ended up capitalising to win

Lando lunged again, this time arriving too fast and locking his front tyres and running wide. It was his fourth track limits violation, and he would get a five-second penalty, which sadly he would never serve. Max didn’t appear to be aware of this impending penalty for his friend and rival, and when shortly after – on lap 64 – Norris went down the outside of the Red Bull into turn three for a change, Verstappen veered left and there was contact.

Did he know he was there? He confirmed post-race that he did, he’s on top of it all well enough. They touched and it finished Norris’s race and left Verstappen limping home for three quarters of a lap with a puncture.

What I found alarming is that after the contact and as they were both limping along, Verstappen clearly tried to impede and collect Norris if he could. Verstappen would get a 10-second penalty for the turn three contact, but such was his pace thereafter on fresh tyres it mattered not, as he recovered to fifth place, actually increasing his championship lead to the angst of many.

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Norris was left fuming after his collision with Verstappen

In commentary, and in these columns, I’ve waxed lyrical about Max’s talent, and I stand by that, he’s one of the very best I’ve ever witnessed in 40 years. I’ve also said that he’s calmed down, matured, and plays more the percentage game with three championships in his pocket. But that appears to have been a thin veneer as this race was very much Max 1.0, with his default driving tactics and denials resurfacing.

I’m making no excuses for him, but I do wonder if the ridiculous spat between his father Jos and team boss Christian Horner has finally surfaced on track for him.

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Anthony Davidson gave his verdict on whether Verstappen or Norris was at fault for the crash

And to hear the Red Bull team on the radio after the race telling him it was all Norris’s fault was a difficult listen, it damages their credibility all round.

It was clear Norris would get a five-second penalty for track limits and the whole thing was totally unnecessary for Red Bull. It must also be said that Lando’s race craft was rather gung-ho. He’ll need more finesse, patience, and cunning than that if he wants to start beating Max regularly to win a championship.

‘Perez form alarming as Haas benefit from chaos’

Another alarming thing for Red Bull is that Max still beat team-mate Sergio Perez by 17 seconds despite the contact, slow lap, penalty, and extra pit stop. Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas also beat Perez, who also had a five-second penalty for pit lane speeding and bodywork damage, but it was another awful weekend for him.

In fact, it was a great day for Haas as Kevin Magnussen finished eighth for more championship points for the relatively tiny team.

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George Russell and Toto Wolff hilariously make up after the Mercedes driver swore on team radio

Daniel Ricciardo had a necessarily strong day in ninth and two world championship points for RB. Pierre Gasly nicked the final point for Alpine after a ferocious battle with his team-mate Esteban Ocon. It was one of those days when the top teams were leaving points on the table and they were there for the taking for the desperate midfield.

After Piastri put a great move on Sainz to seize second, he set off after Russell but there weren’t enough laps left and the King’s Lynn boy had it all under control up front.

Hamilton would finish a distant fourth after the pit-entry penalty and bodywork damage to his Mercedes.

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Russell gave Ted Kravitz a ‘champagne shower’ after his win at the Austrian Grand Prix

Congratulations to George and Mercedes for their first win since Brazil 2022, 33 races ago, which should go down well with the British crowd at Silverstone this coming weekend. I suspect Lando will get plenty of support too.

This is turning into a classic season, bring on round 12.

Sky Sports F1’s live British GP schedule (all F1 sessions on Sky Showcase)

Thursday July 4
1.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference
6pm: The F1 Show

Friday July 5
8.35am: F3 Practice
9.55am: F2 Practice
12pm: British GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F3 Qualifying
3pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: British GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)

Saturday July 6
9.15am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: British GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.15pm: British GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: British GP Qualifying
5pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday July 7
8:15am: F3 Feature Race
9:50am: F2 Feature Race
11:50am: Porsche Supercup
1:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – British GP build-up
5pm: Chequered Flag: British GP reaction
6pm: Ted’s Notebook

F1’s summer triple-header concludes with the big one, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Watch every session live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase, with Sunday’s race at 3pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime