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Russell gets F1 win after Verstappen-Norris clash

SPIELBERG, Austria — George Russell secured a victory against the odds at the Austrian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen and Lando Norris collided fighting for the lead.

The win is Russell’s second in his career and Mercedes’ first since his last victory at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished second, 1.9 seconds behind Russell, ahead of Carlos Sainz in third.

Russell said afterwards: “Incredible. It was a tough start at the beginning of the race to hold on to that P3, and I saw on the TV that Max and Lando were going hard and I knew Lando would want to get that race win … but you’ve got to be there to pick up the pieces…

“I couldn’t believe how close we were to Max and Lando — only about 12-13 seconds behind and I knew there was a possibility, you’re always dreaming and it’s great for the team to be back on the top step. We’ve worked so hard and made so many strides since the start of the season.

“It’s no secret with Red Bull and Max, and McLaren with Lando are still a little bit out in front. But we are always putting ourselves in that third place position in the last couple of races. If anything happens up front, we will then pick it up. What an exciting time for us,” he added.

Verstappen dominated the first half of the race, building a lead of eight seconds ahead of his second pit stop, but a slow tyre change allowed Norris to close within three seconds as they returned to the track with 20 laps remaining.

The Red Bull driver was clearly struggling with the performance of his car on his final set of tyres and by Lap 59 of 71 the Verstappen and Norris were fighting wheel-to-wheel for the lead.

Over the next five laps, the battle increased in intensity, with Norris regularly radioing his team to complain about Verstappen’s tactics in defending the lead.

George Russell took his second career victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.
George Russell took his second career victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

On Lap 64, the seemingly inevitable happened as Norris attempted to go to the outside of Verstappen at Turn Three, only for the two cars to clash.

The contact resulted in a right rear puncture for Norris and a left rear puncture for Verstappen, meaning they both dropped down the order as they returned to the pits for repairs.

Flailing rubber on Norris’ car tore the rear of his McLaren apart, scattering debris across the circuit and forcing him to retire when he returned to the pits, while Verstappen was able to rejoin the race in fifth place.

The stewards deemed Verstappen to blame for the collision and penalised him 10 seconds, although it did not impact his final finishing position.

Russell, who had been running a quiet race in third throughout, emerged as the race leader. Piastri passed Carlos Sainz for second place on Lap 65 and looked in contention for victory, but a virtual safety car to clear the debris left by Norris’ McLaren meant the Australian lost out on a chance to pressure Russell in the final laps.

Piastri said after the race: “There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ starting from yesterday [referring to the demotion from third to seventh in qualifying for breaching track limits].

“I know it’s only my fourth podium in F1 but being so close to a win it hurts, but really good points and the second half of the race we were coming on pretty strong and another podium.”

Meanwhile Sainz said: “Quite an eventful race for us upfront, it was all about trying to keep up with George. We knew Mercedes would have a bit of an advantage from race pace and we tried everything to keep up with him. Oscar was coming in really quick at the end … P3 which is a good result, I think we can be quite happy and proud of that because this weekend hasn’t been that good for us and to come away 15 points is a good result.”

When asked about the tighter battles in recent races, Sainz said: “Happy days for Formula One — there has been some action up front and we are getting to see some nice battles. Unfortunately for us we are still coming off the back of a couple of races where we are still not quite there to fight for the win yet but we are doing everything we can to be back on form for Silverstone and the coming races.”

Verstappen’s lead in the drivers’ championship has increased to 81 points ahead of Norris.

The triple header continues with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend.

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