Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Masi backs Norris penalty for Perez move after criticism from Red Bull and McLaren

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Criticism of the stewards’ decision to penalise Lando Norris over an incident with Sergio Perez came, unusually, from both sides.

Norris and his McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl were unsurprisingly unimpressed with the call. But Seidl’s opposite number at Red Bull, Christian Horner, also criticised the decision.

The stewards gave Norris a five-second time penalty after Perez went off at the outside of turn four while trying to overtake the McLaren. Perez received similar penalties himself later in the race for incidents involving Charles Leclerc at turns four and six.

The first incident happened on lap four of the race, following a Safety Car restart. Norris felt it should have been regarded as if it was the opening lap, as when Max Verstappen forced Lewis Hamilton wide in the Tamburello chicane at Imola three months ago, when the Red Bull driver avoided a penalty.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Norris and Perez went into turn four side-by-side
“From my point of view, I think if I were to compare it to anything, it’s the same as Max and Lewis in Imola,” said Norris. “Same thing as that.

“It’s lap one, or it’s a restart, and I think Sergio, maybe he doesn’t know there’s gravel on the exit of that corner and it’s downhill, it’s easy to run wide and it was just what happens.

“You watch Formula 2 or Formula 3 or any category and people who try to go around the outside there and don’t commit to it end up in the gravel. That’s just the way that corner runs.

“So he took the risk and not me. He didn’t commit to his overtake the way he should have done and he put himself in the gravel. So I don’t feel it was my mistake but I don’t make the penalties.”

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Decisions on incidents are taken by the stewards rather than the race director. Nonetheless Masi gave insight into why the Imola incident was considered differently, pointing out it occured at the first corner on the first lap of the race.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
While Norris kept his line, Perez lost seven places
“All lap one incidents are treated in a more lenient manner and that has been the case for a number of years under the ‘let them race’ principle, let’s call it,” he said.

“But each and every one is obviously it’s very difficult to try and compare. I know everyone likes to group everything, but it’s very difficult to compare two completely different corners a la Imola and either turns four or six.”

There exists considerable precedent for how similar incidents have been treated in the past. A convention was established where a leading driver on the inside of a corner wasn’t obliged to leave room for a rival on the outside at the exit unless that rival had got ahead of them.

In Masi’s view, Perez had done this, and therefore Norris was required to leave room for him. “In Sergio’s one with Lando, he was wholly alongside Lando and therefore there is an onus to leave a car’s width to the edge of the track,” he explained.

Horner did not agree, and saw the incident in much the same way as Norris. “I was okay with the incident between Checo and Lando, that’s racing,” he said. “You go around the outside, you take the risk. Particularly when you’re not in a position that you’re ahead.”

He felt the penalty for Norris left the stewards no option other than to give the same sanction to Perez for his incidents with Leclerc.

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Perez dished out some of the same to Leclerc later
“The FIA, having awarded that penalty, then couldn’t not award a penalty for a very similar move with Charles. But these guys have raced karting from when they were kids and you know, it happens.

“You know if you go around the outside, you take the risk particularly if you’re not ahead. So I think the penalties were a bit harsh and it sort of does slightly go against the ‘let them race’ mantra that we’ve been championing in recent years.”

Norris’ team principal Andreas Seidl also felt Perez hadn’t drawn sufficiently alongside Norris to have earned the right to the line on the outside of the corner.

“I don’t understand why he got a penalty there,” said Seidl. “That is, for me, racing that we all want to see and I don’t think that Lando did anything wrong.

“It was, in addition, at the beginning of the race where everyone needs to settle in first. He was just going on his racing line. He didn’t do anything stupid and do some dive bombing or whatever. He was always parallel to him or even slightly ahead of Checo. So honestly, I don’t understand.”

Seidl felt the driver steward, who at this weekend’s race was ex-Formula 1 driver Derek Warwick, should have brought a useful perspective into this particular incident.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
“I also don’t understand why, for example, the driver steward doesn’t bring more across there, what’s actually going on there in this first race lap for a race driver. It will be interesting what we hear from Michael on this.”

Following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Norris criticised a grid penalty he was given for a red flag infringement, Masi said the driver had violated a rule known by “a six-year-old who’s in their first karting event.” Seidl pointedly chose a similar phrase to express his dissatisfaction on Sunday.

“I would say, to speak in Michael’s words, every go-kart driver knows that if you go there to the outside, the first race lap, you will end up in the gravel. But you can’t complain about the guy that was on the racing line.”

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60 comments on “Masi backs Norris penalty for Perez move after criticism from Red Bull and McLaren”

  1. The only difference between the Norris/Perez incident and the first Perez/LeClerc incident was that Perez actually did take LeClerc out and LeClerc actually was ahead. Norris just held his line, and Perez was never ahead.

    Norris did absolutely nothing wrong. Perez did.

    But neither of them deserved a penalty. The second LeClerc/Perez incident was just LeClerc being angry and shouldn’t have even made it to the stewards.

    1. @sham Leclerc got into that position in the first place by diving from further back, so Perez had less time to react and give space. On the other hand, Perez was pretty much alongside Norris and didn’t suddenly appear on his left late.

      1. The driver on the outside always appears to be momentarily ahead because they are braking later to take the outside line compared to the driver hugging the track on the inside.

        The outside driver will always get a better drive out of the corner, so it makes even less sense to force a driver on the racing line to concede just because the other driver can brake later.

        In all the cases, the driver on the racing line was entitled to follow through on the racing line and the driver on the outside had to back off unless they were significantly ahead at the start of braking.

        Very poor decisions indeed.

        1. @f1g33k if the outside driver can brake later and get a better drive out of the corner, one has to wonder why would anyone even use the normal racing line.

          1. There was already a car on that line:norris

          2. In the context of being boxed in and having to turn in to avoid the car on the outside. Normal racing line usually takes them to the outside after hitting the apex which is faster than being on the outside all the time.

    2. Sam (@undercut677)
      4th July 2021, 23:23

      This is not true, Checo was ahead going into the turn. He didnt stay ahead but went side to side because Norris squeezed him out.

    3. I respecfully disagree.
      Though there were some differences, I think both should be penalized.
      The driver on the inside line needs to keep a cars width on the outside, when someone is there.
      I think if you approve this during racing, a lot of drivers will be pushed wide, it’ll become a defensive tactic to push the other on the grass or gravel, that’s not my kind of racing.

      In my opinion it doesn’t matter if the one on the outside is in front or not… saying this, the place of the outside car does matter, if he only has his wing there… there is another situation I think… so where is that line
      hmmm, food for thought

      1. @johnever that is how Hamilton kept beating Rosberg and vice versa…

      2. GtisBetter (@)
        5th July 2021, 9:09

        I think racing line should also be considered. If for example the driver on the inside brakes to late and misses the corner and pushes the outside driver of the track, a penalty seem right. But if the inside guy just does what he has been doing the same as the lap before, maybe the driver on the outside tried to force something by braking late.

  2. I’m not convinced. I very much hate the squeeze-on-exit move, but I feel there is enough precedent that it’s allowed (you could even argue it actually was a squeeze here). And because of that precedent I feel the Norris-Perez incident should not be penalized. I would be ok with the penalty, if all other similar incidents are now also penalized. I have to be honest here, I don’t have enough confidence in the stewarding being consistent (as proven again here) for that to happen….

    1. Absolute rubbish excuse. Perez one leclerc was there and opened up his steering into him Perez was behind coming out of the corner and could have lifted off to avoid a collision. Norris was ahead both into and out of the corner and opened up to take the racing line. Perez could have backed off to avoid the collision. The similar incident was Perez Vs leclerc part 2 where I thought leclerc should have backed out as he was behind and in the outside.

      1. Sam (@undercut677)
        4th July 2021, 23:28

        Why do people keep saying that Perez was behind Norris going into the corner. This is easy to disprove:

        Leclrec was not even ahead of Perez at the same point. Once again, easy to show:

  3. Until now the squeze was quite acceptable.. And bad for the show.

    This would best be handled by explaining driver standards beforehand, and then punish these moves.

    1. No other racing series punishes driver for taking the racing line while in front of the competitor. Why does F1 hate racing?

      1. Pushing off isn’t racing. It’s the opposite of racing.

  4. JohnnyRye (@)
    4th July 2021, 21:38

    Can we get driver stewards that aren’t 30+ years removed from racing?

    I like the intent but the stewarding consistency is not where it needs to be in my opinion(across multiple weekends I mean, Checo/Leclerc and Lando/Checo was arguably consistent)

    1. @johnnyrye the issue is that, if you use a driver who has been in motorsport too recently, it then raises questions over whether they could have a conflict of interest.

      After all, some drivers who have been in motorsport recently might still have contractual links to a team, such as acting as a brand ambassador or carrying out advertising work for them, or they might be under employment as a reserve driver for a team. That could then be seen as presenting a conflict of interest if they are called upon to investigate either that team or a driver from that team – similarly, if a driver recently left a team under acrimonious circumstances, that too might also raise questions of bias in their judgement.

      That is why there seems to be a preference for hiring an older driver as a way of getting around some of those cases that could result in conflicts of interest, although that then creates a different set of potential compromises.

  5. That corner goes downhill and keeps going to the right after the exit on approach to turn 5, so cars naturally go much wider than they should. That should’ve been considered, as even going side by side the chances of going into the gravel are quite high. Perez had not won the position yet, so I don’t think it should’ve been considered in any other way than a racing incident.

  6. Masi: “In Sergio’s one with Lando, he was wholly alongside Lando and therefore there is an onus to leave a car’s width to the edge of the track”

    For me, the crux of this is a clarification here as to what ‘wholly’ alongside or fully alongside actually means with some sort of examples as to what is acceptable. The drivers and stewards, not least of all the fans, need some common ground. It seems to be make it up as you go along as to how fully alongside a driver needs to be to be entitled to space when attacking on the outside. Too many of these now.

    1. Coventry Climax
      5th July 2021, 2:18

      Also, if mr. Masi is not the one to hand out the punishments, it would be best if he also didn’t ‘clarify’ or comment on them. Have one of the actual stewards explain. Or are they happy hiding behind mr. Masi?
      Might also be good for the show, with graphics and all, if we could witness the voting of these guys. Oh sorry, got carried away by my scepticism here.

  7. Would be interesting to know if Perez was told Norris got penalized for that. I have a feeling he didn’t know and then got burnt for the reason himself.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      4th July 2021, 22:08

      @f1lauri This is what the commentators on BBC Radio 5 Live were saying. Jolyon Plamer guessed that Perez had not been told of Norris’ penalty so thought it would be good for him as well.

      1. I doubt very much that Perez was not told. It would have been mentioned in an effort to get him to push harder. Even Bottas was told that Norris might get a penalty!

  8. This is another example I think where they handed out a joke penalty last year to Hamilton that has now meant there is a precedent to give a time penalty for maintaining the racing line and pushing people wide.

    Funny how the rule has never been applied to Verstappen or Leclerc who have done this on numerous occasions to other drivers. Either its fair to run drivers off the road or its not but you must apply the same rule for all drivers.

    1. The difference was that last year Hamilton was passed and hit Albon’s rear wheel, where as both with Lando on Perez and Perez on LeClerc, they had not passed and probably should have yielded.

  9. I’m fine with the ruling if they will now continue to apply it as consistently as they did for this particular race. I feel like this squeezing thing becoming acceptable came about with a couple of the young talents coming in and using it often like Verstappen.

    1. It has always been acceptable. It is acceptable in all other racing series, it has been acceptable for pretty much the entire time I have watched F1. Perez was behind and took a chance of going around the outside. Perez ought to have partially expected to end up in the gravel. On the other hand Perez got exactly the same penalty for hitting Leclerc while being slightly behind!

      1. Total nonsense.

  10. I reckon the initial penalty to Norris was given because of consequence. I think because Perez lost SO much time and SO many places in the gravel, the stewards decided to do something about it. With tarmac run offs, it has become second nature for the inside driver to just shove the outside driver off the track and get away with it. Similarly, the outside driver knows they can risk a move and accept being pushed off as they won’t lose any time. As a result, the stewards let them off. This time around, Norris does what every driver does these days but because Perez was punished by a gravel trap, Norris wasn’t allowed to get away with it.

    1. Spot on.

      Said this in another article comment, but Perez tried to wall of death it around the outside, kept his foot in it and was already running wide, out of grip and out of space regardless of what Norris did. Perez was going to have to lift to stay on track and if he did at the point he should have, giving up an impossible move, Norris’s ‘squeeze’ would have been irrelevant. It sort of was anyway, Perez wasn’t completing that move at that moment regardless.

      Only reason Norris gets the penalty is the fact Perez lost so many places making the attempt. If Perez had dipped a wheel in the gravel and lost no places, i doubt Lando gets penalised.

      We see this a lot now, drivers are getting penalised for the outcome rather than their own actions. It’s wrong.

      Compare that to Perez’s 2 incidents with Leclerc, once he bangs wheels and pushes him off track, the other he effectively swipes at him into the gravel, both are penalties because the actions of Perez are the primary cause to harming Leclercs race. Lando’s one was way more Perez overreaching at the wrong moment and causing himself the problem.

      1. @mrcento Another scenario in which Norris probably wouldn’t have received a penalty is if the incident occurred later in the race without anyone relatively close behind or only a lapped driver behind. In this scenario, Perez wouldn’t have lost a single position. Leclerc indeed didn’t because no one was behind at the time.

        1. @mrcento Perez still got penalized, although this was for consistency’s sake, so fair.

    2. Fully agreed.

      Had Checo lost only 1 or 2 positions, it would have been no penalty.

      Same as happened with Lewis and Max at Imola (the very incident that Lando gave reference to).

      The Leclerc Perez incident definitely warranted a penalty. Leclerc’s onboard clearly showed that he was marginally ahead of Perez at one point before the contact and when the contact finally happened, he was only marginally behind.

      Had that move happened, it would have been one of the moves of the season.

      1. @Sumedh The Imola incident also occurred on lap one. This partly affected as opening lap incidents generally get more lenient treatment.

      2. I agree with this. Too many times we see the stewards being inconsistent and punishing drivers according to the race situation. I definitely don’t think Lando should have received the penalty. The trouble is he now has extra penalties on this licence which is a ridiculous outcome of this decision.

        It’s supposed to be a competitive sport. If a driver decides to make an impossible move i.e. Perez, then that has consequences.

        1. @phil-f1-21 There was nothing ‘impossible’ about Perez’s driving there – it would have set him up for the inside of Turn 5.

  11. Only Norris did not “Shove” Perez off the track… Perez effectively shoved himself off by executing such a risky manoeuvre. He was behind going in to the corner and was behind coming out of it… It was obvious he was going to have to leave the track. Lets not forget that Perez could have backed out and stayed on track.

  12. Ridiculous stewarding decisions. The Norris/Perez and 2nd Perez/Leclerc incidents shouldn’t even have been investigated. That racing move has been allowable on so many occasions in the years since the current penalty system was adopted that there is no reason to even look closely at it unless there is some debate over which car is ahead. The car on the inside is allowed to take the racing line, even if it pushes the other driver off the track. The first Perez/Leclerc incident was probably worth an investigation as Leclerc was potentially ahead on exit and Perez could have possibly avoided taking the normal racing line to give him space on that occasion.

    As usual the goalposts have been moved mid-race. If I was a racing driver I would have no idea what the current rules of racing are. I guess it depends on who is in the stewards room.

    1. @keithedin I agree with you on the 2nd Perez/Leclerc incident.

  13. Sam (@undercut677)
    5th July 2021, 0:21

    The rule should be if the outside car is ahead going into a corner and they stay ahead at all times until forced of the track, the car that forces the other car off the track gets a penalty. This would lead to Hamilton getting a penalty for forcing Albon off the track last year but no pentalties for Lecler/Max ’19, Perez/Norris 21′ and both Leclerc/Perez ’21 incidents. This way, if an outside car cannot be ahead at the corner entrance and guarantee that they can stay ahead throughout the corner, it is their responsibility to back off.

    This seems like it would be clear to undestand and easier to implement.

  14. When I was racing FF1600 if you weren’t going to get around you backed out. The car ahead had the line and that was that. No requirement to leave a car’s width……. pretty simple really.

    1. And when they are alongside?

  15. I just wish we could bring back the wisdom and sanity of Charlie Whiting. It seems to me that Michael Masi has become ‘power crazy’ and thinks he is a ‘supremo’ and that he is god’s gift to F1 and all that matters are his opinions. Handing out penalties like there is no tomorrow is not what I as a long time follower of F1 want to see. If we can’t decide between racing incidents and dangerous driving then we might as well revert to virtual reality racing.

    1. When the drivers start respecting and obeying the rules, the stewards won’t need to hand out penalties.

  16. My question is: would you do this if a wall was there instead of grass/gravel? We all remember Schumacher – barrichello at hungaroring 2010. I believe that “the young guns” show less respect and are more aggressive.

  17. Norris took the racing line how can he be given a penalty for driving on the racing line? Its absurd.

    1. Incredible and beyond believe the race control level is. Unworthy of F1. A cluster of incompetence

    2. Where does it say in the rules?

    3. How much more subjective would the application of the rules be if they rely on an imaginary and changeable ‘racing line?’
      Do you not want consistency?

  18. Masi: “Don’t talk to me about consistency, we’re here to support the show and this week the director wanted to see a fight between the Red Bulls and Mercs.”
    Also Masi: “I’ve no understanding of racing, I even avoid multi-lane roundabouts”

    Seriously though, Masi, the stewards, anything the FIA seems to touch is still just so amateur.

  19. Come on, Horner’s reaction was only because a penalty for Norris would release the Mercedes.

    1. of course

  20. I won’t back him or trust him. I won’t until he speaks out about Baku 2021 probably after he retires. Dismissal calls are increasing.

  21. It’s so simple. If a car is alongside, you have to give it room. End of.

    I really can’t understand how it would be fine to just push it off the track.

    1. +1

      Pushing opponents off the track should be reserved for no-rules demolition derbies and banger racing.
      Not professional motorsport.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      5th July 2021, 13:57

      it’s not simple, because of physics

      1. Which physics? @passingisoverrated
        The physics that involve the defending driver not bothering to turn his head and look in the mirror at corner entry to see if someone is going to put a move on down the outside?
        Or the physics of simply choosing to get back on the throttle and take the wide exit, running the opponent off the track?

        1. GtisBetter (@)
          5th July 2021, 19:38

          non of the above

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