Peter Collins sings Lando’s praises following the Austrian Grand Prix
Lando Norris … full of speed and skill and schemes in Austria.
For far too long Formula One was devoid of character and characters. That has changed. Is it down to the ‘new’ owners?
They have tried to improve the show. Fair enough. But it’s not the answer. Sport is made interesting by those who compete in it.
All F1 drivers are immensely talented. But then you need personality, not just out of the car, but in it. Max Verstappen has it, so too do Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, and Pierre Gasly.
George Russell is interesting in a Steve Davis sort of way, not to mention the more mature drivers on the current grid, Fernando Alonso, once again Sebastian Vettel, not to mention Kimi.
Formula one is in a very good place. Strap yourself in for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen set off from pole position and was never headed.
Sergio Perez Red Bull may have been marginally faster than Lando Norris’s McLaren but Norris was never going to give up his second position easily.
He defended hard over the first few laps and when Perez tried to make a move around the outside of turn three he was muscled out of it and into the gravel.
Holding a watching brief behind were Hamilton and Bottas, as if the Mercedes drivers needed reminding, the young McLaren driver is not one to be trifled with.
“Very hard to follow,” said Hamilton. But by lap 10 Lewis was having a look, the in car camera showed Norris was watching his every move and adjusting his racing line accordingly.
With Hamilton’s Mercedes noticeably quicker, Norris asked his race engineer, “How much do you want me to risk?”
The left rear tyre was showing signs of wear, but he was told to race on, as if he needed to be told.
Lewis got by on lap 20 just as we received the news that the race spoilers had interfered again. Norris was being penalised by the stewards for causing Perez to run off into the gravel when the two were fighting for second place.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Perez was not entitled to the place, Norris defended fairly. The McLaren driver had the racing line. What was he supposed to do? Lift? I don’t think so!
Perez did complain that Norris had run him out wide. It didn’t look that way from my vantage point and the tv replays bore that out.
On lap 30 Lando came in for his first pit stop and to take his 5-second penalty. Bottas pitted too. He had been a couple of seconds behind but with Norris having to sit and take his punishment, Bottas sped out of the pits ahead of him and claimed third place. Norris was now 4th.
Fast forward to Lap 40 and Leclerc was closing on Perez. The Ferrari tried around the outside, the Red Bull defended his position, the two cars touched, Leclerc ran wide into the gravel and dropped back.
The trigger-happy stewards were at it again. Bang, a lap later they issued a 5-second penalty to Perez. Payback maybe.
Why do we watch high-speed racing? To marvel at the acceleration, grip, and braking ability of these magnificent machines.
To watch brave, highly skilled drivers race and race hard. The sport is as safe as it’s ever been, but penalise drivers for racing hard and you take a vital edge off the competition.
Undeterred Leclerc raced on and a couple of laps later they were at it again. This time though in defending his position Perez drifted wide through the corner and ran Leclerc’s Ferrari wide into the gravel again. This one was borderline. Another 5-second penalty followed.
This was turning into a cracking race. Hamilton was having car trouble in second, Bottas was initially told not to race his team mate but as Norris closed in on the Finnish driver, team orders were. altered. Really!
So Bottas moved up to second and moments later Norris came charging at the struggling Mercedes, first on the outside of turn 5 and then through the inside of turn 6 he made the move stick. Norris up to third.
Max Verstappen steered well clear of any drama today and well clear of the rest of the field in taking the race win. Bottas took second and Norris held on to that third podium place.
Crowd reaction tells you all you need to know about how the fans feel.
The Red Bull Ring was a sea of Orange today, there primarily to support Max Verstappen, but as the cars circulated after the chequered flag, the Dutch fans saved huge acknowledgment for Lando Norris not because of his McLaren’s orange livery but because of the racing entertainment he provided, full of speed and skill and schemes, as Shane MacGowan so eloquently put it in White City.