Norris: Austrian battles a good omen for future

Date published: July 2 2019

Ross Brawn doesn't think Austria was a "crisis weekend" for Mercedes.

Racing wheel-to-wheel with F1’s World Champions and race winners, Lando Norris hopes Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix battles are a sign of things to come.

The British rookie qualified P5 at the Red Bull Ring and briefly, very briefly, ran as high as third as he challenged Lewis Hamilton having already overtaken Max Verstappen, who made an extremely slow getaway.

Racing around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 1, Norris concedes he was able to give it a go in part because the five-time World Champion had more on the line than he did.

“I still kind of got around Turn 1 like ‘do I run off, do I not’, but yeah, I had faith in Lewis that he wouldn’t do anything silly especially with the situation he’s in,” Norris told Motorsport Week.

“I can, in some ways, take more risks than he can. I was outside of him in Turn 1 which wasn’t easy.

“There’s more, more time, more result to come in me, making it around the first few corners, getting to the end, racing and learning about how to manage the battery, manage the tyres, there’s more to gain from that than trying to get one position at Turn 1 and doing something stupid.

“Maybe I’ve dropped back further than I’ve wanted to [in some races] but I think I’ve taken the safer option for a good reason. As you saw [in Austria] if I want to push and I need to I can go forward.”

Hamilton, though, wasn’t the only big name that Norris tussled with on Sunday on his way to sixth place.

He also fought Kimi Raikkonen, passed by the Alfa Romeo driver only to retake the position, while late in the race it was Max Verstappen.

Speaking about that battle, he told Autosport: “Max struggled to get past me initially, but obviously he went on to win so you can see the pace in the car that they had was a big advantage.

“But it still wasn’t easy for him to get past on the opening laps.

“It was nice to race them, you can see where they’re gaining, and where they’re maybe not far away in terms of our pace compared to theirs.

“It was a brief spell competing against guys who are quicker than us, but that’s where we want to be eventually, so if we keep working hard we’ll see if one day we’ll be fighting them off.”

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