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Verstappen: I don't want [fighting] to ruin friendship with Norris

Verstappen: I don’t want fighting to ruin friendship with Norris

Verstappen: I don't want [fighting] to ruin friendship with Norris

Max Verstappen said his friendship with Lando Norris was a priority after clearing the air with the McLaren driver ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s triple Formula 1 World Champion and his closest championship rival collided while fighting for the lead at the previous race in Austria, with the clash turning into a major talking point.

The headlines were fuelled by Norris and McLaren team boss Andrea Stella questioning the champion’s driving and talking about lost respect.

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Verstappen told reporters at Silverstone on Thursday that he and Norris talked regularly, remained great friends and that was all that mattered.

“I get on really well with Lando,” he said. “We are fighting naturally for wins this year and I of course don’t want that to ruin the friendship off track as well, because that’s definitely not what it deserves.”

Verstappen said he had suggested they take time to cool off after the race and had spoken on Monday, coming to the conclusion that they both enjoyed the battle.

“We like to race hard. We’ve done this for many years not only in Formula 1, even online racing where we have a lot of fun together, and these things have to carry on because that’s what we like to do and I think it’s great for Formula 1 as well,” said the Dutch driver.

“I know that Lando’s a great guy. He’s a really nice person who loves Formula 1,” he pointed out. “Of course he loves racing and he’s just very passionate about it… he’s fighting for a second potential win, I’m fighting for my 62nd win.

“Naturally your emotions are a little bit different. I know that from myself when I was fighting for these first wins in F1. But that’s fine,” the Dutchman insisted.

Verstappen has won seven of 11 races this season and has an 81 point lead over Norris, who took his first F1 victory in Miami.

Asked whether he expected a backlash from the British crowd at Silverstone, Verstappen replied: “For us everything is cleared and that’s the most important.

“So long as I’m OK with Lando that’s the only thing I’m concerned about,” he concluded.

Norris said earlier that there was no need for Verstappen to apologise. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)