Lando Norris, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2019

Norris nearly crashed before race start on “dangerous” drag strip

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In the round-up: Lando Norris revealed he nearly crashed on his pre-race reconnaissance lap in Hockenheim.

What they say

Norris ran onto the treacherous drag strip where several drivers spun or crashed during the race.

The only thing that was stupid which led to a lot of the crashes was the drag strip. I, luckily, did it on my laps to the grid.

We had an onboard that we had to watch, that one magic lap from Fernando [Alonso] when he was with Ferrari. And he goes two wheels over the kerb onto the drag strip and everything looks fine.

So I did my lap-to-grid, I tried it, and I genuinely thought I was going to be out of the race before it had even started. I put the clutch in, full opposite lock, I’m not exaggerating, I shat myself. I was like ‘oh shoot, this is not going to be good’. Because all the guys were waiting there to put me up on the jacks in my position, and I had the biggest fright of my life.

So from my side I knew that straight away, obviously I’m not going to tell anyone because I’ll let them try it out. But every person that made a small mistake, just lost the rear or under-steered a bit into the last two corners, went onto the drag strip and you just see the fricking… it’s like you accelerate, nothing you can do.

It’s probably quite dangerous to be honest because you don’t slow down on the Tarmac run-off there. Approaching at a decent speed, as soon as you hit it you can’t do anything. There’s no point braking, even. That’s something I think needs to be changed for next time.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Is this how F1 should sustain races on heritage tracks which cannot afford high hosting feed?

A better business model would be F1 pays the track to host the event, which covers the costs. Then all ticket receipts go back to F1. It safeguards tracks and also forces F1 to make its sport as exciting as possible to sell tickets.
Steven Robertson (@Emu55)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Norris nearly crashed before race start on “dangerous” drag strip”

  1. CoTD is brilliant.

    This is how it works in the real world as well. If I want to organize a festival I rent a venue, pay for the art work, DJ’s, etc. and then try to make it all back, plus a profit, by selling tickets and booze.

    1. @jeffreyj – Bernie was sharp. He outsourced all of that work to the local race promoter, and made them pay for the privilege of hosting a race :)

    2. COTD is optimism at its best. Will work very well in an alternate universe.
      The comment is right in the way that it puts the onus on the controller of the sport to have a better stake at the micro level–gate revenue at tracks. Am unsure how much of gate revenue goes to F1 now. And providing tracks with a fixed amount (could be one time or yearly profit sharing) could safeguard the tracks better, no doubt. Thats how it happens in cricket–the gate revenue is shared–the controller gets only a minor share though. Grounds/associations receive annual payments and one time upgrade money. Controller primarily earns through sponsors and broadcast commitments–very huge. While comparing the two sports is not fair for a multitude of reasons, the concept of revenue sharing with multiple owners/tracks/associations isn’t impossible.

      I am splitting this further into a few parts here:
      1. “F1 pays the track to host the event, which covers the costs; It safeguards tracks “
      While i agree that such a system would safeguard the tracks, this is a drastic change to the existing business model which would result in a huge outflow straightaway. Imagine answering Liberty’s shareholders.

      2. “Then all ticket receipts go back to F1; also forces F1 to make its sport as exciting as possible to sell tickets.”
      The words in bold is basically what F1 has been trying to do i guess–make the sport exciting–aint easy; we all know that. We all have at least 10 different ideas each to make it better. None of which could make it economically sustainable.

      1. The COTD would make sense if the aim of the owners of F1 was to make the best motorpsort experience for everyone involved. But unfortunately we live in a world where the first priority is to make money for the owners.

        This applies to almost everything nowadays. Music, Games, etc. If the aim of the owners of a Hollywood movie studio was to make the best films possible, rather than make films that make the most money, we would have completely different films for example.

        People are amazing at solving problems and achieving goals. Nowadays the goal seems to be make as much profit as possible (for the owners of the world), which the people are doing (profits are at a record high). But everything else is suffering. The environment, standards of living, job security, art, music, F1. All at the expense of short term profits.

    3. While I completely agree with the CotD, this is not at all how it works in “the real world”.

      I’ve worked at concert venues before and you have to book the artist, pay them to come play and provide lights and sound, catering, security etc. for them. You make your profit by selling the tickets.

  2. The departure of Dieter Zetsche from Mercedes is quite pivotal. Germany, and possibly Japan, are the only countries that still value engineers (trust me, I am an engineer, you’d get way more respect if you sold underwear from your garage). With Ola Kallenius taking over as CEO of Merc, a company that has prided itself as a technical innovator in the history of the automobile, it will be run by a “bean counter”. The rest of the “big three” are still run by engineers, Kruger at BMW and Deiss at VAG., but could this be the beginning of a trend?

    Pre-80s American industrial (automotive or other) corporations were run by engineers, then they were taken over by the “bean counters”, and look at what happened. I’d like t think that the Germans have maintained their edge over the rest of the industry because they have been managed by technical people in the right areas. With various pressures facing automakers in the coming years, a technical person may be seen as a bit of a hindrance, because we tend to be too logical (once again, this is a big problem for a lot of people).

    When all the big automakers are taken over by bean counters, will there be any interest in going racing at all?

    1. I think there still are a lot of countries that respect engineers, our country definitely is one of them – the respect stems from pedigree, unfortunately, and engineers from the insanely competitive public colleges are worshipped, while others are disparaged despite their knowledge.

      American manufacturers are still interested in racing. They may not be interested in Formula 1, but they still support other racing series. GM has been a staple in LeMans with the thundering Corvette, and are arguably the face of the newly replenished IMSA series – Cadillac supplies majority of teams, and every championship so far has been won by a Caddy-powered car – which might just change this year since Acura and Mazda actually seem competitive. We all know of GM’s involvement in IndyCar thanks to Keith’s interest in the series. GM’s competitor from Little Rock changed the face of NASCAR and Australian Supercars by ditching the boring sedan and bringing in the Mustang, and they had a good run with the GT in endurance racing. The only large American missing from the racing scene is Chrysler, but their European half is obviously doing well.

      I think the issue for the American companies is the fact that they have a fairly small line-up outside of North America, which makes F1, where races are primarily outside NA, unappealing. For instance, would Ford ever use F1 to market a “muscle” car that sees double digit sales only in a handful of markets? What about the endless range of family sedans and ladder-on-frame SUVs, would F1 be an appropriate platform to market those? I’m sure both bean counters and engineers will say no.

      Consider GM, which in recent years wound up operations in many of their overseas countries – selling Vauxhall and Opel to PSA, moving Holden manufacturing out of Australia, winding up in South Africa and India. Why would they want to use a “global”, or in my opinion, mostly European, racing series to market their cars?

      It isn’t a matter of who is running those corporations, its a matter of the markets in which they operate. They aren’t “global” companies anymore, hence, “global” racing series do not appeal to them.

      1. Very good points @sundark.

        I think over the years, manufacturers have come to F1 for various reasons, marketing being only one of those. Honda for example believes that participation in F1 puts their engineers at the forefront of automotive engineering, improving their abilities, which is then disseminated throughout their company. Honda have never produced a retail engine (to my knowledge) with more than 6 cylinders, however they produced one of the greatest V10 engines, some very decent V8 engines as well. This sort of backs up their approach.

        Ferrari, historically anyway, sold cars to fund his racing team. I guess they don’t need to do that these days, as F1 is Ferrari’s one and only marketing platform (apart for appearing on Marlboro packs in some countries). Ferrari is Ferrari.

        Mercedes came into F1 to sell more cars, and they have used F1 as a platform to transform their brand. Historically, Merc’s target market has been the more mature and wealthy, your dad drove a Merc, not you. Now, its completely changed, where the new range of Mercs are targeted at the young and upwardly mobile. Lewis Hamilton was a key figure in this mix as well. The point here is that, Mercedes, under the stewardship Dieter Zetsche, used F1 as their platform to make this transformation.

        I have no idea what Renault’s justification of being in F1 as works team is. Their vehicle line up is far from stellar (Koleos Formula Edition!!..woohoo!), perhaps their purpose is similar to that of Hondas?

        My point, citing the examples above, is that F1 can be used as a platform for various purposes, as manufacturers see fit. That can be said about racing in general.

        1. Koleos Formula Edition!!..woohoo!

          LOL @jaymenon10

        2. Historically, Merc’s target market has been the more mature and wealthy, your dad drove a Merc, not you. Now, its completely changed, where the new range of Mercs are targeted at the young and upwardly mobile.

          Very insightful. @jaymenon10

  3. LOL at the Mercedes tweet, good to see their social media handlers have a self-deprecating sense of humour!

    1. Jonathan Parkin
      31st July 2019, 4:57

      Although interestingly when I was watching the 1998 Belgian GP last year to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary they mentioned ‘soft wets’ as well as ‘hard wets’. Could have been a gaffe though

      1. Jonathan Parkin, in the past, the tyre manufacturers did produce multiple different types of wet tyre, as well as different tread patterns as well – in the end, though, the tyre manufacturers started cutting back because most of those tyres weren’t used even in wet conditions.

  4. Given the quote Dieter obtained about man flu, is that the real reason Hamilton was “sick”?

    1. What? I must have missed that…

      1. @exediron

        I [Dieter] bump into a Mercedes source, and ask about Lewis Hamilton’s health given Saturday’s flu scare, and am told it’s ‘the worst case of man flu imaginable’; said, though, in a slightly sarcastic tone. So I’m none the wiser.

  5. CotD is thought-provoking, well done @Emu55 .

    As Jeffrey already pointed out above, typically it is the event that rents a place out (music, trade shows, etc.), so F1 is a bit of an anomaly in that respect (or a great business school lesson for MBAs!).

    Some of the other benefits of CotD are:
    – It allows Liberty to dictate and demand a minimum set of standards to be fulfilled in hosting a race. Essentials such as track surface, garage facilities, and non-racing aspects such as security, car park, accessibility from urban/suburban centres/airports, food and beverages, media centres with certain standards. Liberty could even rate venues based on their facilities, and tailor the rent they pay accordingly, so the circuit owners don’t get complacent.
    – Liberty can exert more control of where they race. For instance, people often point out racing in Bahrain despite various human rights violations. If Liberty were renting circuits, they could easily choose another venue, and get a lot of PR out of such a decision as well.
    – It gives local promoters the ability to upgrade & maintain facilities using their fixed income from F1.

    Some of the cons are:
    – An inflow of income becomes an outflow of expenditure. Worse still, it is a fixed inflow that gets replaced by a variable income of ticket sales, which might be subject to other vagaries (weather, competing events, etc.) I’m not making excuses for Liberty, but they might not be keen on replacing easy money with hard-earned money.
    – Liberty will need an on-the-ground partner to facilitate ticket sales, and other local logistics. Again, Liberty have it easy now since they can just say to the promoter “The F1 circus arrives on 31-Feb” and leave the details in the hands of the promoter for the most part. That would change, with Liberty having to get much more hands-on. Again, not something they’d be keen to do, given the status quo.
    – Liberty will probably have to directly negotiate some tax breaks with the local government, under the banner of “F1 does so much for the local economy, so cut us some slack on the taxes”. Again, they’d need a local partner for this, likely the circuit itself.

    In rebuttal to the cons: Liberty take ~1 billion USD a year out of F1 (and distribute the other ~1 billion USD amongst the teams). I’ve felt that the teams do far more with their share of the 1 billion than Liberty do for the sport with their take. I admit Liberty are beholden to their investors, but it would be good to see them putting something back into the sport.

    Sadly, CotD has the expectation that Liberty will willingly spend more money and do more work. Unless something drastic were to happen to force Liberty to do so, I don’t see that happening, they’ll be content to keep the ship sailing as it is, and patching up various leaks and moving the race to richer venues and growth markets.

    1. I don’t think Liberty would be any good at organising racing events on the ground, but they could learn, @phylyp.

      An added benefit is that they can share their experience between venues and have managers move with the circus.
      And it will make it much easier to have alternating events. I still don’t understand why F1 has to go back to the same venue every year, whereas the World Cup and Olympics don’t even do this every fourth year.

      1. I don’t think Liberty would be any good at organising racing events on the ground, but they could learn

        @coldfly – that’s a very good point, and a challenge they will face in the first year in particular. The best way of solving it might be to hire away relevant people from venues (e.g. some of the people who work for Silverstone) to form their venue management team.

        Also, you’ve called out a very good advantage there – if it’s Liberty renting out venues, they can definitely move to a model like you propose with F1 visiting some countries biennially, which will reflect in improved ticket sales as well.

  6. Masi explains Leclerc ‘release fine’ (
    “In Monaco, for clarification, it was labelled an unsafe release but it was actually for causing a collision in the pit lane,”

      1. you’re not keeping up with RF, are you, you naughty lad?

        No I’m not (anymore), @phylyp.
        One of the reasons is that the round-up is not what it used to be; I now get my ‘daily dose’ from a different source.
        The linked article is unique though as it contains direct quotes and explanations from race director Masi. Much more than reporting on the incident report.
        This article is IMO more newsworthy than most of the other page filters.

        I can only hope that one day the ’round-up’ returns to its old glory: “Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more from hundreds of sites across the web:”

        1. The linked article is unique though as it contains direct quotes and explanations from race director Masi.

          @coldfly – fair point, that article has verbatim quotes from Masi.

    1. And yet @coldfly if you watch the top ten onboards video you can clearly see Leclerc make contact with Grosjean. I think the decision was wrong but forgivable it must be hard being a steward, but for them to come out and make up an excuse like this I think is worse.

      1. Agree, @yossarian, ‘Unsafe Release’ is a team fault where the driver is blameless.
        But the only way to stop teams repeating this dangerous action is to penalise the driver (or maybe take away team WCC points as I suggested earlier).

      2. @yossarian Horner said max only got the penalty because of the contact, because apparently what was an unsafe release is no more in 2019. Grosjean and Leclerc clearly touched, pitlane surely was treacherous, either that or the Halo, as Grosjean reacts very slowly to charles, he didn’t even needed to brake to a halt, just slow down a bit as usual in busy pitlanes.

  7. “I put the clutch in, full opposite lock, I’m not exaggerating, I shat myself.”

    I know drivers sometimes pee in the cockpit. But this is a bit too much Lando :-)

  8. Did Bottas’s crash out of the race spare him the humiliation of finishing the race stuck behind Stroll? It sure didn’t look like he was about to get by… #F1 #GermanGP

    — Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) July 30, 2019

    It’s really unseemly when editors start dissing their favorite’s rivals like any old fan.

  9. I wonder which ‘magic lap’ was in question there.

    1. @jerejj
      Alonso’s pole lap from 2012, I’d wager.

  10. Norris shedding some light to why he was running so tight on the last couple corners, some drivers did some did not and eventually crashed out. When Hulk went off there it sure did look like he accelerated but he didn’t it, as norris denoted that run-off is pretty useless, that was that slippy.

  11. Does anyone have any opinion on the 2013 F1 documentary titled “1”?

    @keithcollantine – has this been reviewed on the site? I tried searching, but “1” or “1 2013” aren’t exactly search-friendly phrases :)

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