McLaren driver Lando Norris says it is Max Verstappen’s “aggression” that sets him apart from other drivers on the grid, adding that the Dutchman pushes the boundaries further than most.
Verstappen spent much of 2021 battling Sir Lewis Hamilton for the championship, and the pair came to blows at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia, while also encountering a close call in Brazil.
In season four of Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries, a Mercedes employee was heard saying that the 24-year-old’s 51G collision with the barrier at the British Grand Prix was “exactly the right lesson” for him to learn, indicating that his belligerence on track was always going to end in an incident such as that one.
Norris notes that Verstappen altered his approach when it came to the final few rounds of the season, as his championship battle with Hamilton reached its climax.
“It’s a different battle because of how Max races,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
“It’s a different breed of drivers. You saw how he drove and changed when it came down to those final races, with aggression.
“It’s maybe something you don’t experience so much in the midfield because you’re not going for a World Championship, or some of the drivers don’t have that mentality of risking everything.”
The 22-year-old affirms that he tries to “play smart” with his opponents – particularly his team-mate – and believes that he does not exceed the limits of fairness.
“It’s difficult. You would try and play smart as much as you can. There are things you would definitely try and outsmart your team-mate on,” he explained.
“But I’m also a fair racer and, I don’t know, maybe don’t push the limits quite as much in certain areas.”
Verstappen claimed his maiden F1 world title on the very last lap of the championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but his title defence got off to a horrible start in Bahrain last weekend as he retired from the race late on due to a mechanical failure.
Norris finished the grand prix in P15, just behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in a horrible weekend for the McLaren team.