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via Imago

via Imago

While most of the F1 world rallies against Max Verstappen, let’s explore the other side. After his race-altering Austrian GP collision with Lando Norris, social media was ablaze with criticism for the 3-time champion. However, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner termed Lando Norris’ overtaking “overambitious”. Opposing this take, McLaren CEO Zak Brown took to Instagram to emphasize how his star driver was “taken out” by Verstappen. However, this statement has now backfired with many fans branding him F1’s new “cry baby”.

After a botched 6.5-second pit stop for Max Verstappen in Lap 52, Norris was right on his tail. The Briton attempted several divebombs to snatch the race lead, going off track with some, but to no avail. Trying to keep his MCL38 within the DRS range of the RB20 ahead, Norris accidentally breached track limits many times, for which he got a 5-second penalty. When his final overtake attempt turned into a collision with Verstappen at Turn 3, all efforts drowned.

“A true rollercoaster of a race,” Zak Brown wrote on Instagram. “Awesome recovery drive from Oscar to go P7 to P2! But heartbreak for Lando, who was taken out during his battle for the win,he added, emphasizing how Verstappen was in the wrong.

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A post shared by Zak Brown (@zbrownceo)

Poll of the day

Do you think Zak Brown's statement about Lando Norris was justified?

Absolutely

Not at all

Partially

No opinion

This was Brown’s mistake – not that he defended his driver, but he publicly called out the reigning world champion. He ignited Verstappen’s Orange Army and some neutral fans, who put the 52-year-old in his place.

Lando Norris ‘divebombing’ and penalty take center stage after Zak Brown’s defensive post

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In the end, Max Verstappen was at fault for the collision, getting slapped with a 10-second penalty. Even in the numerous mini battles that he had with Lando Norris before it, he was accused of weaving under braking. However, on all the occasions, the McLaren ace’s moves seemed rather desperate. While some called it “hard racing”, others were irked by it. Post-race, the Red Bull driver even called out his friend for the “late divebombs”. Zak Brown’s Instagram post then became the cherry on top of the cake of Norris’ destruction.

One fan called out the McLaren CEO for their Norris-biased strategy and highlighted how the 24-year-old’s track limits violations were a form of “cheating”. “Great strategy there pitting Lando the same lap as Max both times while being 7 seconds back in the meantime leaving Oscar out forever on his first run in hopes he slows down Verstappen. Lando cheating with track limits was the only reason why he got to DRS. Come on man.”

Another reminded the Woking outfit’s boss about how his driver’s efforts would’ve anyhow amounted to nothing. With the 5-second penalty, Norris was destined to finish second in any condition. “Lando had a 5-second penalty for track limits. Even if he had finished first, Max would still have won.” The last time F1 witnessed such a battle was during Max Verstappen v/s Lewis Hamilton in 2021. Then, it used to be Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who would make such comments. The Austrian was called out in one fan’s reaction to Brown’s claim as they wrote, “Taken out?! Will you replace Toto Wolff as the crybaby of F1??😢”

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Another user broadened the scope of McLaren’s argument. Oscar Piastri turning into Charles Leclerc and damaging his Ferrari in Lap 1 was smartly dragged into the conversation to underline how the Woking outfit didn’t destroy one but two driver’s races. “You hit Leclerc early race, you hit Verstappen end of race!” Among all his back-and-forth jabs, one fan’s sensible take stood out. They sided with neither of the teams, showing how both drivers went overboard for the victory. “Both drivers drove a great race and did some hard racing. And they both went over the edge. That’s what happened Zack. Nobody took nobody out of this race. Shake hands and see you guys next week💪🏻”.

A 2021-like fight is on again. Though Verstappen is still far ahead, with one hand on the drivers’ championship, Lando Norris is here to make his life difficult. While we hope no such crashes overshadow the drivers’ race-craft, F1 is exciting once again.