Max Verstappen in X-rated radio blast as Lando Norris forced to avoid "massive" crash

Lando Norris had to react quickly to avoid slamming into the back of Max Verstappen as the Red Bull driver trundled around the Jeddah track on a slow lap during practice on Saturday.

Traffic issues have been a theme of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend so far. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has seen changes to its layout to improve visibility, but still the narrow but fast nature of the street circuit makes it difficult for cars to get out of the way of those on a hot lap at times.

Race engineers are usually very good at warning drivers on slow laps that a quicker car is approaching from behind, but that didn’t appear to happen with Verstappen on Saturday. He swore over the radio at Gianpiero Lambiase after a close call with Norris.

The McLaren man was on a hot lap when he suddenly came across Verstappen, moving much more slowly. Norris had to react quickly to brake and abort the lap in order to avoid a crash. And he was swiftly on the radio to complain as well.

“It’s dangerous what these guys do… that could have been a massive crash,” he told his own race engineer. The reply then came that McLaren would be reporting the incident to the race director.

It appeared that Verstappen had not been warned about the approaching Brit, as his reaction was to say over the radio: “Mate, f***.” His race engineer Lambiase replied: “Apologies,” which seemed to be an admission that he had not warned the Dutchman.

Verstappen apologised to Norris after swearing over the radio

Verstappen pulled back alongside Norris shortly afterwards to wave to the McLaren man in apology. And it was accepted as Norris waved back. The incident was noted by the stewards, though they decided that no investigation was necessary.

Verstappen was quickest in both practice sessions on Friday and the same was true in the final session on Saturday morning. He was suffering from a gearbox issue which made downshifts difficult, but it should not affect the rest of his weekend as Red Bull have opted to change the part.

Understandably, the Dutchman is the strong favourite for pole position. Charles Leclerc was the man to beat on a Saturday last season but, regardless of where he qualifies, he will start this weekend’s race 10 places further back thanks to a grid penalty for already taking a third control electronics engine component of the season.

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