Lando Norris penalty: Smart McLaren avoid British GP nightmare

The British driver spoke of how his team saved him from a potential nightmare scenario at his home race on Sunday

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Lando Norris has revealed he was completely unaware that McLaren prevented him from taking a grid penalty ahead of the Formula 1 2024 British Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver had attempted a daring overtake on Max Verstappen on Lap 63 with a ‘divebomb’ down the inside, only to lock up his brakes and veer off the track. He gave back the place going into Turn 4, which would normally eliminate the need to punish a driver for ‘gaining an advantage’ by overtaking whilst off the racetrack.

But Norris was penalised by the stewards for a different reason altogether. The Briton had been shown a black and white flag for three separate track limits violations, meaning another would result in a five-second time penalty. Unfortunately for the Briton, his move took him past the white line and landed him a penalty from the stewards.

It was McLaren’s intelligent thinking, however, that may have helped him avoid a potential three-place grid penalty at the British GP. Before he retired the car on Lap 64 following his subsequent collision with Verstappen, the team waited five seconds in the pit lane before attending to his car. In any case, this covered the team from the penalty being passed onto the next race at Silverstone due to a lack of clarity regarding classification rules.

Lando Norris at the 2024 Austrian GP | McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris served his penalty at the 2024 Austrian GP | McLaren F1 Team

Ahead of the race at Silverstone, Norris admitted he was none the wiser about his punishment and only learned what they his team had done in the post-race briefing. As it happened, the stewards added five seconds onto Norris’ lap time anyway because he had been officially classified and not as a retired car.

“I got the five-second [penalty] for trying to overtake and then not going correctly. I didn’t even know I had the five-second penalty,” told the written press at Silverstone, including Total-Motorsport.com. “I didn’t even know why we served the five-second penalty before we retired the car. I didn’t even know that’s what we did until after the race. That’s just common sense.”

Norris calls for penalty rule change

Reflecting on the penalty itself, Norris wasn’t happy with how the stewards applied the FIA regulations and raised questions about the impact the decision could have on drivers attempting overtakes in the future.

“I’ve tried to do an overtake, I’ve locked up, I’ve gone off the track, I’ve had to then avoid the sausage kerb. But immediately I gave the position back to Max, so I probably lost a second and a half doing that and it’s a clear enough penalty, I’ve lost out in doing such a thing. It’s just silly,” Norris added.

“Those types of things will avoid people racing like if you don’t want us to race and don’t want me to try ever overtake and you want a boring race, then you can have these rules.

“I’m sure it’s something that’s already been brought up because there’s a difference between going off track and gaining an advantage. And it’s the gaining advantage bit which is the most important, and then as the going off because you’ve made a silly mistake, you’ve not judged something perfectly.

“But the fact I get punished for that, especially in a racing situation, especially when I’ve given up even more time just doesn’t make sense. So [it’s] something I hope they fix quickly because I think it’s pretty stupid.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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