Lewis Hamilton: Norris was robbed, no need for track limits penalties in Qatar

Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri had lap times deleted at the end of Q3 for the Qatar GP.

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Lewis Hamilton questioned the need for track limits penalties at the Losail International Circuit after both McLaren drivers lost top-three finishes in qualifying for the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen claimed an undisputed pole, initially by three-tenths from Lando Norris before the Brit was dropped to tenth after track limits penalties, which moved Piastri briefly into third before he had his final lap deleted too and moved back to sixth.

That means George Russell and Hamilton, originally third and fifth, will now be the lead drivers behind Verstappen in Sunday’s grand prix.

“I don’t feel like we need to have track limits at this track,” Hamilton told the media. “It’s something that was brought in a couple of years ago and, yeah Lando should be up here.

“When you go beyond the highest point of the kerb, you lose time so it shouldn’t be the white line necessarily. But anyway, it’s not for me to decide.”

How does Russell avoid track limits?

George Russell looks on at the British GP | Mercedes / Stephen Reuss

Track limits controversy

The track limit rules were simplified after chaos in years past, when the white line was the limit on some corners but not on others, so in Qatar every corner’s track limits started on the inside edge of the kerb.

However, George Russell has clearly mastered the formula, avoiding any penalties in Qatar or the minefield that is Austria‘s Red Bull Ring.

He sits 75 points behind Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship after beating his teammate in their first year together at Mercedes, but losing a podium to a late crash of Russell‘s own making at the Singapore GP hasn’t helped matters in 2023.

However, Russell either isn’t aware of his strong record of keeping it clean against the clock or he’s not about to spill his secrets as he played it cool when asked about it in the post-qualifying press conference in Qatar.

“Yeah, not too sure,” Russell said. “I can’t really speak for the others, just it’s very challenging out there. You’ve got to be very, very precise, we’re talking sort of millimetres sometimes.

“And I’ve had no track limits, but two races ago I crashed into the wall and lost the podium. So that was sort of track limits there, so I’m not too sure.

“But definitely it’s a bit frustrating when we go to great circuits like this, this is a really great circuit, then it’s so difficult to know where that limit, where that edge is and we need to find a better solution for the future.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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