Formula 1 stewards handle incidents differently based on the run-off areas used at circuits, Lando Norris believes following lengthy debate over last week’s controversy at Interlagos.Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen ran wide at Descida do Lago. Hamilton drew past Verstappen on the outside approaching the corner, but the Red Bull driver ran deep into the turn, leading both to run wide onto the asphalt run-off.
The incident drew widespread attention as other drivers have been penalised for forcing rivals wide during the season. It was the focus of attention of a long meeting between drivers and FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi on Friday evening in Qatar.
Drivers said the discussion did not fully clarify what stewards consider legal defensive driving. Norris, who was penalised for forcing Sergio Perez wide into a gravel trap at the Red Bull Ring earlier this year, said the meeting led him to conclude stewards interpret the rules differently depending on the nature of the run-off areas.
However Norris indicated other aspects of the discussion reinforced his belief that the penalty he received in Austria was wrong.
“Some of the things that we now understand means that I shouldn’t have got a penalty,” said Norris. “But then also what types of surfaces are on the outside of the circuit, whether that’s all on Tarmac or whatever, can also have an effect.”
Norris believes the stewards should enforce the racing rules consistently regardless of the type of run-off. “I don’t think it is maybe fair, or true,” he said. “I think if you know that it’s gravel on the outside and if you’re not completely alongside me, which Perez was, then he’s put himself in that very risky position.”
The McLaren driver is convinced the difference between the run-offs was the deciding factor in his penalty. “That’s the only thing that I believe now must have been the difference, that he wasn’t all the way alongside me, it was like half a car,” he said.
“I gave still a bit of space for him to back out, it wasn’t like I shoved him off, there was no contact made. So from that perspective, there’s no reason I should have got the penalty.
“The only reason I now believe is that there was gravel and not Tarmac. And I feel like that’s a bit of a difficult one to give a penalty on, if there’s gravel and not Tarmac. It’s not my fault, it’s the guy on the outside’s risk he’s taking for himself on the outside of the corner that it’s gravel. That’s up to him. It’s not again, obvious exactly why.
“I still feel like it’s an unfair penalty that I got. But that’s what I have to believe now is the difference from Max’s one last week and my one is that I had gravel.”
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