Lando Norris believes there ought to have been a penalty despite Max Verstappen’s warning to be more polite following a close call in qualifying.
Verstappen edged Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the pole position in the Japanese Grand Prix by a thousandth of a second. The Dutchman needed a victory and the quickest lap to win back-to-back world championships.
However, when Verstappen was summoned to the stewards and subject to an investigation for an incident that might have turned disastrous, things in qualifying could have taken a very different turn.
Norris was driving at full throttle as he neared a crawling Verstappen in the third round of qualifying as they reached the famous 130R bend before the final chicane and onto the start/finish straight for a hot lap.
The race leader then decided to try to rev up his tires at the worst possible time, as a loss of grip caused his car to go off the track as Norris passed, saving the British driver from a serious collision.
Later, Verstappen apologized to his friend over the radio, but Norris was still in disbelief. Come on, now! How does it appear? When questioned if Verstappen was a hindrance, he responded. Of course! He just attempted to descend into me on the left.
Verstappen held a different opinion and ultimately only earned a caution for the incident. He stated that we were all on our out-lap. He managed to pull me into the chicane even though we were all lining up to try to make a space between us.
But I had a brief moment since I was about to accelerate on very cold tires. He had to drive around me because of this.
However, if you show a little more respect, everyone will already be lining up. In essence, by attempting to overtake me, you create that kind of issue because I don’t believe anyone is trying to pass into that final chicane. Verstappen’s teammate in an E-sports simulation, Norris, had a different perspective.
He claimed that it was obvious that he had tried to defend himself. Nothing restricts what you are allowed to do. But you cannot act in the same manner as he did. Before the final corner, there are always overtakes. Even if everyone always agrees to do it, everyone always actually follows through, thus it is irrelevant.
He most likely would have reacted the same way if he had been in my shoes, but I wouldn’t have swerved in his direction. When questioned whether Verstappen deserved a fine for the infraction, he responded, “Oh yeah, for sure.” Christian Horner, the team manager for Red Bull, later offered his opinions, noting that there is a gentleman’s understanding not to overtake before a hot lap.
They were both on out-laps, and drivers have a gentleman’s understanding that when they reach that stretch of the circuit, they hold position and proceed into the final chicane one at a time. Lando has certainly made the decision to skip the line as they approach the last chicane.
Unsurprisingly, the incident sparked a firestorm of discussion on social media about the lack of a penalty, but the FIA responded by stating: Regarding [a] penalty, all prior infractions of this nature have resulted in a reprimand, therefore a similar penalty is imposed in this case, noting that this is Verstappen’s first infraction of the season.