Lando Norris, McLaren, Imola, 2021

Norris surprised to lose third on the grid by “centimetres”

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says he missed out on a third-place start for tomorrow’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix by centimetres after his best lap time in Q3 was deleted for a track limits infringement.

The McLaren driver was on course to equal the best starting position of his career when he posted a 1’14.454 in the dying seconds of qualifying. The time, four hundredths of a second slower than Lewis Hamilton pole-winning lap, put him provisionally second on the grid, though Sergio Perez later beat it.

But Norris’s time did not stand. It was deleted after he was observed to have exceeded track limits at the exit of Piratella. The loss of his best lap time left Norris seventh on the grid, behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Norris says he was “surprised” to learn he had infringed the track limits during his final flying lap, and that the margin of difference came down to a matter of centimetres.

Norris was slightly over the limit in qualifying
“I didn’t think it was too different to the laps I did previously,” said Norris. “I think I was always close to the limit. I didn’t think of it when I was doing my lap or anything. So it was a bit of a surprise.

“But I think the reason is because all my other laps were very close and were very similar, obviously just a few centimetres further left. But when you’re driving the car, you don’t really feel those couple of centimetres all the time. So that’s why it didn’t feel too different.”

Norris was in good company. Mick Schumacher, Antonio Giovinazzi, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez all had lap times deleted for running too wide on the exit of the high-speed kink at Piratella.

“I think the faster corner, the trickier it is to guess,” said Norris. “It’s quite a narrow track. You’re committing to your turn-in. It’s not like you can start to edge in and have a few attempts at it.

“It’s quite a big inside kerb, so I didn’t have much room to kind of play with the inside kerb. You’re on a very particular line and you just go that little bit quicker, then you can end up a couple of centimetres wider.

“The thing that’s hard to judge is that it happens so quickly – it’s not easy to get to an apex and then go ‘okay, I know I’m going to be ending up three centimetres further right’. So it’s a very difficult corner. I think in terms of this track, it’s probably one of the hardest to judge exactly where you’re going to end up.

“It probably looks easy when you’re watching. I think we make it look easier than it is. But judging centimetres and inches and stuff like that, it’s much trickier than it looks.”

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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28 comments on “Norris surprised to lose third on the grid by “centimetres””

  1. RocketTankski
    17th April 2021, 19:57

    If an Armco barrier or gravel trap was there then the infringement would be less of a surprise and much more obvious.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      17th April 2021, 20:53

      And much easier for the driver to judge.

      1. The only difference is that they’ll stay further away.

  2. To be fair to Lando, it doesn’t look that easy at all, everyone was close. I think the most disappointing thing for him is those 20cm over probably equated to very little lap time. Perhaps a lesson learnt, a third place start would’ve been a great start to the year.

    1. Maybe, but it’s not what he said
      “It’s quite a big inside kerb, so I didn’t have much room to kind of play with the inside kerb. You’re on a very particular line and you just go that little bit quicker, then you can end up a couple of centimetres wider.”
      We’re talking what 3/10s – sounds like a couple of corners pushed just a little harder to me.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    17th April 2021, 21:28

    This kid keeps on impressing.

  4. Hm, well, sure. But from the images shown it was about 20 cm at one point on that corner. So not that much. But still quite clearly over the line.

  5. If a football player sends a pass from outside the field (just by few millimeters) that leads to a score, the goal is recalled. Racing should be no different.

    1. @Aleš Norský No dude. Let the Brits, who they think that they own F1, to think that their guys excell at everything. “Oh, I am so so gutted for NOR”…Ok lad, guess what? He violated the track limits and gained advantage. I didn’t see a similar comment for VER on the last GP. PER came from dead last last year at Sakhir but hey, RUS deserved that victory, starting in front with the best car that F1 has seen. Double standards you said? No. This concept is not familiar to Brit F1 fans, owners of this site included.

      1. Broccoliface
        18th April 2021, 1:59

        I think you have problems

      2. Anger management problems right here lol

      3. Tommytintop (@)
        18th April 2021, 10:02

        Man! You need less coffee in the mornings and go to some yoga classes.

        1. @petegeo LOL. I will do these after the “Stars of the weekend” racefans article. I bet 20 quids that he will be there, with his “trememdous” effort. Oh wait, RIC is in front of him. LOL.

      4. There’s been loads of debate about VER running wide at the last race and how the penalty was harsh, especially as HAM (a Brit) had been running wide at the same corner all weekend.

        With RUS it’s more that he has been patiently waiting in the worst car on the grid and he had one opportunity to score a decent result, and he lost it through no fault of his own. Brits love to see an underdog win, and in the context of the season RUS was an underdog.

  6. What I do not understand is why was Lewis’s pole lap also not deleted. It seemed to me that he went off track at the exit of turn 15 which (according to Racefans – Same track limits for every F1 session at Imola) was one of the corners being ‘policed’ apparently. From the on-board of his pole lap shown on Sky F1, it certainly appears that Lewis was off track at that exit – see: Screenshot from Sky F1

    I also find it annoying that the world feed did show the off board of Lando’s infringement, but not of Lewis’s…

    1. I can’t compare it exactly with norris, but I’m guessing it might’ve been slightly more on the inside for hamilton, think about it: if there were grounds for complaints red bull would have.

    2. @potsie159 if you were following the session closely you’d have known that track limits at Turn 15 were beyond the kerbs (Italian flag) and not the track boundary like Turn 9.

      1. You are right @wsrgo .. I was not following the session as closely as I would have liked to .. Martin Brundle did mention something about Valteri being ok at that exit due to the kerbs, but I only saw the bit where they show the pace car showing where the track limits in (I think) P1 .. Never realised that they have different rules for different corners.. would have been nice if it was mentioned in the Racefans article on the topic though :)

  7. …Ah. Turns out that the definition of what track limits are differs at 9 & 13 compared to 15. After some searching (and noting that the question of what actually constitutes track limits was raised in the first comment to the Racefans article I linked above, to which Racefans haven’t bothered to respond to), I managed to find the Race Directors Event Notes for Imola. Pages 4 and 5 “clarify” track limits by stating:

    21) Track Limits
    21.1 Turn 9 – Exit
    a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track on the exit of
    Turn 9, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards. A driver will be judged to
    have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.
    21.2 Turn 13 – Apex
    a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track on the apex
    of Turn 13, will result in that lap time being invalidated by the stewards. A driver will be judged
    to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.
    21.3 Turn 15 – Exit
    a) A lap time achieved during any practice session or the race by leaving the track and cutting
    behind the red, white and green kerb on the exit of Turn 15, will result in that lap time being
    invalidated by the stewards …

    …so from that.. If Lewis lap is considered to be valid, it must be that the ‘red, white and green kerb on the exit of turn 15’ must be considered as one entity… ie. To be off track there you have to be beyond the Red portion of the red, white and green … as Lewis was certainly beyond the green portion.

    1. Tommytintop (@)
      18th April 2021, 10:09

      Why can’t the just make the white line the limit for every corner? which makes it far easier for everybody to understand.

  8. Not sure if its because Daniel is still yet to get comfy in his new car, but Lando absolutely schooling Daniel is something i never expected. Just imagine when once Dan gets going…
    Amazing team this.
    The performance could narrow down to conditions but if i were Ferrari, i would be slightly concerned about the massive advantage mclaren seem to have at the moment atleast in qualifying.

    1. Didn’t Norris qualify behind Ricciardo, how is that schooling him?

  9. If anyone has driven this track in a sim in vr you will know exactly what lando is talking about. Driven the rss formula hybrid 20 and 21 at imola in Assetto Corsa for 100s of hours and can completely relate. From inside the car you can’t really tell if you’re over the line or not. Lando isn’t complaining about the rules. He’s just stating the fact that he didn’t notice it. And he’s right you don’t notice it.

    It’s amazing how every day I’m agreeing more / understanding more and more the drivers’ comments like when alonso said he hasn’t gone to the limit of the car because he doesn’t have the confidence yet and stuff like that, when they explain handling characteristics and I’m like ‘yep I know exactly what you’re talking about because I felt the same when doing this in sim’. That crash that Tsuada had in quali? Done that dozens of times while chasing a PB.

  10. To me, this is a track that really didn’t need any “track limits” specified and on a fair bit of it exceeding them means picking the car out of a barrier.

    That’s the best way to enforce them. Have a track where exceeding them bites. Sure on the corners concerned, they could exceed them and not fly off into a barrier or gravel, but not enforcing them would probably lead to some carelessness at other corners which could.

    1. I think you’re right, Imola is not like one of those modern tracks where drivers could shortcut about anything if track limits were not enforced. Track limits are probably enforced here on consistency grounds. Still, the irony of declaring “hey, from this race on we will be consistent with track limits, until we decide otherwise” is certainly not lost on fans.

    2. I think Imola – in comparison to other tracks, for example Sakhir – do need track limits because there is so little runoff.
      Getting rid of them at the high chicane and especially at Priratella would encourage the drivers to carry more and more speed and go closer to the wall.
      The lack of runoffs is also the reason they don’t use gravel or grass or even high curbs there. Those could send a driver who gets it wrong right into the wall. No way the FIA is letting that happen nowadays. We have to get used to it.
      This is the price we have to pay for having a “classic” track back.
      Completely different story with the Tilkedromes though…

  11. Such a shame with those cm’s.

    Stunning performance by Norris and McLaren. How many years have we been waiting for another team to get close.

    1. Indeed. That’s the point here.

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