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Norris calls for crackdown on impeding


Lando Norris has called on race stewards to crack down on instances of impeding in the wake of the incident involving Max Verstappen in Singapore.

No doubt distracted by his struggles with his car, the world champion was up before the stewards following a number of incidents during last weekend's qualifying session, the most notable being the impeding of both Yuki Tsunoda and Logan Sargeant.

However, the Dutchman merely got a reprimand for the Tsunoda incident while it was decided to take no further action over that involving Sargeant.

Prior to Tsunoda passing the Dutchman between Turns 3 and 4, the world champion moved to the left, however he left it quite late. His team admitted that there was poor communication on its part and that it did not advise Verstappen until the AlphaTauri driver was alongside.

The stewards, having reviewed a number of impeding and alleged impeding incidents this year, and consistent with previous decisions in relation to the severity of the breach, imposed a reprimand on Verstappen - his second of the season - and a €5,000 fine on his team.

In the incident involving Sargeant, Verstappen said that he was surrounded by many other cars on preparation laps, some of which chose to overtake him on the left and some on the right, and therefore he decided the safest option was for him to drive straight and keep the line, leaving a car width on his right.

The Dutchman told the stewards that he felt any movement to the left or right could have caused a collision with one of the cars around him - a claim that the stewards accepted.

Sargeant stated that he did not believe that Verstappen was at fault and that there was room for him to pass, consequently the stewards felt that the Red Bull driver did not unnecessarily impede the American.

Speaking at Suzuka today, Lando Norris was critical of the decision.

"I don't want to say too much because I'll just create controversy," said the McLaren driver. "I think the blocking one on track should have been a penalty. He blocked someone: it's not just down to the team.

"I know the team got the fine in the end of the day," he continued, "but it should be down to the driver as well to look in his mirrors and see if someone's... you've got nothing else to do the whole lap but look in your mirrors and it seems like a lot of people struggle to do that.

"I think it should just be harsher penalties for blocking people, because so many people do it, it ruins your lap, it ruins your Qualifying. It put Yuki out in Qualifying and he was P1 in Q1. Probably would have been P1 in Q3 if he went all the way.

"No one seems to care enough," he added. "It's happened a lot this season, happened to me quite a few times, especially with certain teams - but it's also down to the driver to look in the mirror, like they got nothing else to do but hit the recharge button and look in your mirror and people seem to struggle to be able to do that in Formula 1, which is a surprise.

"But I'll probably block someone out this weekend and make myself look stupid."

"It's quite a tricky one," said Alex Albon, "because I think consistency is... we push on it a lot as drivers, I think as teams as well and viewers as well, but it's a tricky one.

"For example, you could take my incident with Checo, when he has a five-second penalty, it's consistent with everything else, but is it really fair? Maybe not. So I do think there needs to be flexibility in some ways.

"To answer the question about Max, I haven't really seen it but I do think things don't need to be as consistent as they are right now."

Another incident in qualifying for which the Dutchman escaped sanction was when he virtually parked his car at the end of the pitlane for almost two minutes, thereby preventing others, including the two Mercedes drivers, from getting out on track.

This incident led to an amusing exchange between Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez today.

Asked his opinion, the Red Bull driver replied: "Nothing to say on it."

"Are you sure?" said Hamilton. "You always have an opinion on things."

"Not on this one," replied the Mexican. "What should I say on this one? I pass it to you."

"Are you allowed to park at the end of the pit lane on the way out?" asked the seven-time world champion.

"Not wait for that long," said Perez, "but it's something that probably in the future we're allowed now."

"Just asking, because I didn't know," smiled Hamilton. "I don't really know what to say. I didn't really see them. Obviously I was in the pit lane when everyone stopped and I couldn't see what was happening up ahead. And we always push and work as closely as we can with the FIA to have consistency and there is some variation so we have to continue to work on it for sure."

With traffic expected to be an issue again this weekend, particularly in the opening phases of qualifying, race director Niels Wittich has once again announced a maximum lap time from the Second Safety Car Line to the First Safety Car Line on ANY lap during and after the end of qualifying, including in-laps and out-laps, with offenders deemed to be going unnecessarily slowly, all incident of which will be investigated.


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1. Posted by Mad Matt, 22/09/2023 7:33

"Yes, I remember the one at a time qualifying. In some respects it was good as the drivers had one shot to get it right and not much difference in rubber as even if your last it was only one lap per driver before you (OK, in and out too but you get the point).

There was an element of randomness however, temperatures could change or even a bit of rain might fall...."

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2. Posted by kenji, 22/09/2023 0:58

"Given the length of most tracks it would appear possible to have as many as three cars on track at any given moment with delta laps being set on the out lap and the inlap. In fact many years ago [ IIRC ]we did have staggered quali shoot outs and they were quite exciting.The problem though is 'track ramp up' considerations. The fastest cars/teams would always get the best runs but they do now anyway."

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 21/09/2023 17:58

"They take it much more seriously in MotoGP, but then its still a sport. One at a time runs might solve this, but it would probably make things less "exciting"....
The problem is particularly bad when the track really starts to improve near the end of a session. That's when an unimpeded ruin pays most dividends & when an "inadvertent" block can do likewise."

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 21/09/2023 17:08

"How about in Q1 and Q2 they lengthen them by 50% and then only allow one car from any team to be on track at a given time. Car 2 can leave on it's out lap when car 1 is at a certain point on the track on his in lap. That would make less cars on track plus have the teams strategize who's out when and for how long.

PS: I didn't put much thought into this."

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5. Posted by Mad Matt, 21/09/2023 15:25

"At least Lando had the wisdom to say "But I'll probably block someone out this weekend and make myself look stupid." :-)

I agree with his sentiment though, blocking alters the outcome of qualifying and probably the race and needs to be taken seriously and consistently. I also agree with Alex, 5 second penalties like Checo received are too lenient (nothing against Checo, same went for Lewis in Monza)."

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