Stella: Heated Norris radio exchange at Dutch GP ‘what champions do’

Lando Norris called the McLaren pitwall 'stupid' during the 2023 Dutch GP

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Andreas Stella has defended Lando Norris over his frank radio commentary at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix, after a strategy blunder saw the McLaren driver finish seventh from a front-row start.

Early on at Zandvoort, Norris asked his race engineer Jose Manuel Lopez to pit for intermediates only to be told no, causing the Brit to respond with ‘What the f**k? Are you stupid?…. BOX!”

Norris later admitted the exchange ‘made him look like an idiot’ but ahead of the 2023 Italian GP added Lopez didn’t have a problem with the frank communication.

“At the time Lando made the comment he was obviously frustrated,” Stella told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com, at the Italian GP.

“He was frustrated because he realised that we were missing an opportunity by staying out one lap too much because our people misread the situation.

“So Lando was addressing it, this is what champions do. We like this character, you know, we want to be heavily challenged by the driver and we can be heavily challenged because our culture is strong, we can deal with that.

“You know, we’d rather have this kind of challenge rather than a passive driver that just takes everything and it doesn’t contribute to the development of the team. So for us, this, this episode is not a problem at all.”

Stella: Be careful taking Norris’ comments out of context

Andrea Stella speaking to reporters after the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
Andrea Stella McLaren Team Principal during the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix | Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Stella also urged F1 fans and pundits not to judge Norris‘ comments too harshly and remember the high-pressure context in which he gave them.

McLaren enter the Italian GP expecting a more difficult weekend on the low-downforce circuit but are still contenders for the podium and can back Norris to maximise whatever opportunity the MCL60 provides him.

“I think we all also should be careful in extracting a single comment out of context and being over-judgmental about it,” Stella added. “Actually, the view after Zandvoort, has been very constructive and very pleased with reinforcing the culture that we saw in the team and the drivers.”

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