Lando Norris, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Norris given three-place grid drop for red flag error

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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The stewards have given Lando Norris a three-place penalty for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after ruling he failed to pit when the red flag was shown.

The McLaren driver will therefore fall from sixth place on the grid to ninth for tomorrow’s race. He has also been given three penalty points on his licence, putting him on a total of eight, four away from an automatic one-race ban.

Norris was investigated for failing to pit immediately after red flags were shown when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed during Q1. It was the second time the first round of qualifying was red-flagged.

The McLaren driver was approaching the pit lane entrance at speed when the session was red-flagged. Norris appeared to hesitate over whether he should come in, and straddled the dotted line which indicates where the pit lane entry line begins, before deciding to stay out.

“Should I box or continue?” he asked his team. “If you can, box,” came the reply, though Norris has already committed to staying out. “I can’t, I’m too late,” he said.

The stewards ruled Norris did commit an infraction by failing to pit immediately, but took into consideration the limited amount of time he had to respond, and reduced the penalty from a typical five-place sanction.

“[Norris] was just on the long start-finish-straight when red flags were displayed,” they explained. “Consequently, red lights were flashing on a panel on the left guardrail and on the car’s dashboard.

“During the hearing the driver admitted that he lifted the throttle, braked and was committed to and able to enter the pit lane. At that moment he was not sure what to do and asked his team over the radio.

“Although the team ordered him immediately to enter the pits, it was too late and Norris crossed the finish line one more time.

“The stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of five grid positions is appropriate. However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of three grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

Speaking before the decision was issued, Norris explained his reaction when the red flag was shown: “I was in the middle, I was continuing my lap but then I didn’t really know at one point I could turn left or go right,” he said. “I slowed down straight away, I don’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. And I was going at quite a high speed, going into that pit at that time.

“So I don’t know, I need to speak to the team, but I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”

This article will be updated

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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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33 comments on “Norris given three-place grid drop for red flag error”

  1. Fair enough and nice to see they are enforcing the rules without bias.

    1. yes, you cannot give one driver the death penalty for a tiny infraction and let others off.
      One example was Lewis having a race win stolen last year with a ridiculous penalty because he couldn’t see a tiny closed pit sign at 250kmh so Lando clearly not entering the pits when he was fully aware of a red flag from huge track side lights, radio message and steering wheel info so its is a slam dunk penalty.

      1. stolen

        No comment needed

      2. They’re never lenient with Lewis.
        Neither are the Racist British Commentators

  2. a stupid penalty but even worse the logic used to lower the penalty.
    If there are “circumstances” then void the penalty altogether. But this only shows consistent inconsistency…

    1. Um no the circumstances just meant they reduce the sentence. In the end he still commuted the crime.

    2. He backed off well before the pit entrance so the only thing that was stupid about it really is that they made it a 3 place penalty when it’s supposed to be a standard 5 place penalty? At first I thought he was a lot closer to the pit entrance than he was but looking at the onboard footage he backed off well before the pit entrance, drivers have been given a lot more hefty penalties for less.

      I just find it really odd that he wouldn’t have known to come into the pits immediately since it’s the most basic flag rule? Session is over so literally no reason to stay out on track

  3. The grid drop seems fair, rules are rules etc. But the 3 penalty points seems harsh, especially considering they reduce the penalty because of the circumstances. Surely 2 would’ve been fine?

  4. Red flag means stop and return to pits immediately. Shouldn’t have to ask the team and no reprieve should be given in the event of bad advice from them.
    Penalty is absolutely justified.

    1. Even if returning to the pits could potentially mean endangering all those in the lane due to his speed upon approach?

    2. Pretty much. Norris should know that by now. He is not a rookie and hardly his first Red Flag in F1.

  5. RocketTankski
    5th June 2021, 16:21

    The session was red – flagged. Continuing the lap would just add mileage to the car with no benefit, and could have potentially endangered a crashed driver, marshalls, or himself. A penalty seems fair.

    1. but could endanger people on the track… That is a must return to Pit! and he ignored it

      1. “However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track”. Are they 100% that he could return to the pits safely?

      2. This is what rocket said!

  6. One fewer driver for Perez to overtake.

  7. Why do we need a penalty for incidents like this? I just can’t see any logical reason for it. He never caused any danger nor was there the potential for any danger. And I think safety issues should be the reference for safety related penalties.

    Same with the Raikkonen incident in Imola. And with track limits. We don’t need a rule for everything. We only need them when they actual make sense. The less the better.

    1. @roadrunner Whilst you make a good point about whether it is necessary, the rules as they currently are state that he needs to get a penalty. Whether the rules should take into account whether it is a safety hazard is a different question, but under the rules at the moment he has to be penalised. If you get too lenient then you start getting into the consistency debates that have plagued track limits

    2. Yeah if everybody thought like that and stayed out during a Red Flag then will indeed be more dangerous.

      Red Flag means return to pit immedietly, simple as that. He got a little leniency due to time constant but he still commited the infraction.

      1. Yeah, under the current regulations the penalty is correct and I also understand your point and agree that safety has to be the priority.
        Of course drivers should come to the pits as soon as possible and usually it’s a no brainer as well because going on means more mileage for engine and tyres.

        What I wanted to say is that I don’t see any potential danger in a car driving round slowly and carefully one more time after it had accidentally gone past the pit entry. If it would ignore the red flag and recklessly be pressing on a penalty is necessary.

        But also the obligation to force a driver to pit immediately can lead to split second decisions and sudden changes of directions in the pit entry zone which could potentially be dangerous as well.

        In my opinion this rule would do it: After a red flag is shown you have to return to the pits safely and without overtaking.

        1. @roadrunner as other posters have noted, the driver does not necessarily know why the red flag has occurred and continuing to circulate round might make the situation worse.

          Even if they were going slowly, there may still be safety concerns if a driver may have an obstructed line of sight and ends up coming across a marshal unexpectedly – say, after a 90 degree corner, which Baku has quite a few of. They might still end up delaying or obstructing access for medical staff, who might still be trying to get to a driver, and they might also end up obstructing the work of the marshals as well.

          Even if they might not intend to, having a driver continuing to circulate around for longer than they should does complicate things during a red flag period – just because you might think it was OK in this case doesn’t mean it’s always going to be fine, and you don’t really want drivers gambling on that.

          1. In addition ‘going around slowly’ for a ~700kg Formula 1 car isn’t quite the same thing as a car taking care to not oversee kids playing in a 15km/h residential zone, so if it is a red flag for safety, with track workers trying to remove a car/fix something/take care of an unkown incident, who now probably would not expect anyone driving on track any more, it may very well be really problematic.

    3. If a driver crashes heavily, medical procedures may have to be started immediately. A car driving around the track may hinder these and endanger the marshalls.

      That Norris did not cause any danger in this case cannot be used as an argument, because Norris had no way of knowing that he was not causing any danger. That is why it is not up to the drivers, if they want to stop or not, it is up to race control.

      Ignoring red flags is a very serious issue, Norris is quite lucky to have received such a lenient penalty.

    4. Red flag is the same in all forms of Motorsport. Being DQ’d from a karting race in my youth as I didn’t see the red and failed to pit during quali still haunts me to this day.

  8. Rosberg has a Baku lap video just out where he mentions why the pit entry is so dangerous. Norris’s hesitation was understandable.

    1. There is nothing dangerous about slowing down and driving into the pits slowly and on your own.

      Not once did Norris hesitate while entering the pits in normal and much faster conditions.

  9. The penalty is fair enough.

    At first i thought it was harsh given the late call and uncertainty of crossing the solid line again, but
    The issue isn’t really the extra lap, it’s after he decides to stay out/not dive in, he then speeds up under red flag conditions.

    If he’d just kept at the same speed down the straight, he’d probably have got away with it.

    He’s not gained any advantage, it’s more of a technical breach of the rules but one where the FIA really have to be seen to issue a penalty to ensure folk give the flags instant and full respect in future. Particularly red where there could be people crossing the track, machinery, medical crews etc entering the track. They can’t really set precedents where x was let off.

    At least the stewards have shown some leniency and only given 3 places rather than 5. The penalty points are fair given it’s a flag breach.

  10. Also handed 3 points . He is now on 8 total in a 12 month period. Have seen leas poitna being handed out on more severely dangerous occasions

  11. He should have boxed immediately without the need to ask the team. Its in the rules

    Anyone can insight me when Lando’s penalty points expire because 8 points seems quite close to a race ban?

    1. Per https://wtf1.com/post/why-does-each-driver-have-their-penalty-points/ it says

      Styrian GP – Two Points
      Expires: 10th July 2021
      Reason: overtaking Gasly at Turn 5 under yellow flags in FP1.

      Turkish GP – Three Points
      Expires: 14th November 2021
      Reason: failure to respect yellow flags at Turn 8 during qualifying.

  12. I feel like the 5 place penalty should stand. He shouldn’t have to ask the team whether to pit under a red flag, should be an immediate reaction.

  13. I think he got off lightly (rightly so) – extenuating circumstances mitigated the error – but he still broke the rules so something had to be done otherwise there would have been a different group of folk complaining.

    You know who you are.

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