Lando Norris questions if stewards ‘actually understand’ racing when assessing incidents

Lando Norris on the McLaren pit wall. Singapore October 2022. Credit: Alamy
Lando Norris on the McLaren pit wall. Singapore October 2022. Credit: Alamy

Lando Norris has reiterated his belief that his five-second penalty for colliding with Charles Leclerc during the Sao Paulo Grand Prix was harsh, claiming Formula 1 stewards show a limited understanding of a driver’s perspective when judging incidents.

Norris made contact with Leclerc following a Safety Car restart at Interlagos as the latter attempted to pass the McLaren driver around the outside of Turn 6, where Norris slid into and spun the Ferrari into the wall after touching a kerb.

While Leclerc recovered to finish fourth, Norris was deemed to be “wholly at fault” for the incident and was hit with a five-second penalty, as well as two penalty points, before later retiring following a loss of power.

Norris is adamant that his penalty was severe, suggesting Leclerc put himself in a risky position by trying a pass around the outside of a fast corner.

Calling on F1’s stewards to show more consideration for a driver’s viewpoint, he told The Race: “I think it’s so difficult for them to put themselves in my shoes in this instance.

“Charles went around the outside, the first thing you learn in racing is normally not to go around the outside and normally people need to leave a lot of space.

“We’re in one of the quickest parts of the track, he’s in a risky position, not me.

“But I did everything I could. It’s not like I tried to run him off or do anything that’s just stupid, I don’t want to ruin my own race.

“So if someone was in my shoes – if Charles was in my shoes – he would have done exactly the same. If any good driver was in my shoes they would have done exactly the same.”

Norris’s comments come despite two of the four Sao Paulo GP stewards being former F1 drivers, with Derek Warwick and Roberto Moreno on the panel.

“Do they just look at the incident from an outboard camera and say, ‘He’s caused the crash’ or do they actually understand, ‘Have they done everything to avoid a crash?’ and so on,” Norris added.

“There needs to be more drivers that can understand what it’s like to be in my position or Charles’ position or something.”

Following the multitude of clashes between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the 2021 title battle, the stewards have been operating to a new set of guidelines this season when it comes to determining fault for collisions.

Under the revised system, a driver attempting an overtake on the outside of a corner must have a “significant portion” of their car alongside, with Leclerc slightly ahead of Norris at the point the cars made contact in this particular case.

Norris claimed that it is counterproductive to have such strict guidelines as no two incidents are identical.

It’s impossible to have a binary thing in racing because nothing’s ever the same,” he added.

“There’s too many times I feel – nothing against the stewards we have – there’s too many times where I don’t think they understand the position it is to be in the car, driving the car at the speeds we do, at some of the corners we have to drive around.”

Leclerc, meanwhile, felt the penalty was justified and noted that Norris had been uncharacteristically “aggressive” in combat throughout the Interlagos weekend.

“Obviously I know that Lando is not this type of guy but for some reason he was very aggressive,” he said.

“At the end I don’t expect him to let me pass, he didn’t, but today was too much. He paid the price with the penalty, I guess.”

Read more: Lewis Hamilton doubles down on ‘manipulated’ 2021 title claim

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