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McLaren's British driver Lando Norris takes part in the Drivers Parade ahead of the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix on the Red Bull Ring race track in Spielberg, Austria, on June 30. Image Credit: AFP

Silverstone: Lando Norris on Thursday backed off in his row with Max Verstappen following their crash at last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix and said his friend and rival had no need to apologise.

The McLaren driver, who trails Verstappen by 81 points in the drivers’ title race, took the sting out of their argument by admitting he had overreacted.

But, he said, he still held reservations about the incident and how it was managed by the race stewards.

“Honestly, I don’t think he needed to apologise,” the 24-year-old Briton told reporters at a news conference ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix which marks the half-way stage in the 24-race championship.

“Some of the things I said in the pen after the race were more because I was frustrated at the time.

“(There was) a lot of adrenaline and emotions and I probably said some things I didn’t necessarily believe, especially later on in the week. It was tough. It was a pretty pathetic incident, in terms of it ended both of our races.

“It wasn’t like a hit. It wasn’t like an obvious bit of contact. It was probably one of the smallest bits of contact you can have, but with a pretty terrible consequence for both of us, especially for myself.”

‘Good racing’

By clearing the air and changing the tone of his comments, Norris also eased the pressure on Verstappen whose uncompromising style and reputation were criticised and tarnished in the wake of last weekend’s crash.

“I don’t expect an apology from him,” said Norris.

“I don’t think he should apologise. I thought it was, as a review, good racing. At times, maybe, very close to the edge, but like I said, we’ve spoken about it, we’ve talked about it and we’re both happy to go racing again.”

The 64th lap collision came with Norris attempting to pass the three-time world champion and series leader for the race lead and resulted in both cars suffering punctures.

Verstappen rejoined after a pit-stop and finished fifth after being given a 10-second penalty for causing the crash while Norris pitted and retired.

Norris confirmed that they spoke to discuss the incident on Monday and Wednesday to clear the air after it provoked emotional reactions in the paddock and pit-lane.

“It’s clear how he races,” said Norris.

“It’s tough. On the limit. And, yeh, I think it’s what we love — it’s what I love. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole fight I had with him. It was a shame things ended the way they did.”

He added that this weekend’s race was likely to be another closely-fought affair.

“If you look back to last weekend, Mercedes were extremely quick, if not one of the quickest cars in the race. So they’ve taken probably a few steps forward.

“We’re in a good position, but so are Red Bull. So, yeh, expecting a close battle between many of us.”

Norris said that clarification was needed on details of regulating racing incidents and suggested that Verstappen gained an advantage by not attempting to ‘make the corner’.

“I didn’t squeeze him,” he said. “He took a very easy route out of it, there should be a different outcome.

“There needs to be some clarification on things and we need consistency from the point onwards because if it’s clear what we can do, then I think everyone’s happy.”

He added that he had no idea that he had been given a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits four times until after the race.

“There’s a difference between going off-track and gaining an advantage. We don’t want to take away the fact of just racing and going wheel to wheel and have too many rules.”