Lando Norris, McLaren, Suzuka, 2022

Norris rejects Red Bull claim he broke ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in Q3 near-miss

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Lando Norris has denied accusations by Red Bull he broke a “gentleman’s agreement” by overtaking Max Verstappen when the pair almost collided during qualifying.

The two drivers are being investigated by the stewards following their near-miss, which occured at the start of Q3. Both were on their out-laps about to start their first timed laps of the session when Norris caught up to the Red Bull on the exit of the fast 130R corner.

Verstappen was cruising at around 100km/h when Norris tried to pass the Red Bull at around 240km/h. The Red Bull driver, seemingly trying to warm his tyres, appeared to break traction and swerved to the left as Norris approached him.

Norris drove onto the grass to the left of Verstappen in order to avoid a collision with the Red Bull, and moved ahead of Verstappen before the pair began their flying laps. The McLaren driver expressed his unhappiness with Verstappen to race engineer Will Joseph on his in-lap after posting his first time of the session:

NorrisI don’t know if you all saw Verstappen before the lap started?
JosephYes, we did.
JosephDid he push you off the track, mate?
NorrisWha- come on! What does it look like? Of course! He just tried to go left and down into me.

Verstappen took pole position but the stewards have announced he is under investigation for the incident. The pair were summoned to meet the stewards at 5pm local time.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accused Norris of breaking an agreement between the drivers by trying to pass Verstappen.

“They were both on out-laps and there’s a gentleman’s agreement between the drivers that when you get to that part of the circuit that you hold position and they file through the last chicane one by one,” Horner told Sky. “So Lando’s obviously decided that he wants to jump the queue as they head up to that final chicane.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
Verstappen also said Norris should have been more “respectful”. However Norris said Verstappen would have done the same in his position.

“People always overtake before the last corner,” Norris told Sky. “As much as everyone always agrees to it, everyone always does it.

“So it doesn’t matter. He probably would have done the same if he was in my situation, but I wouldn’t have swerved at him if I was in his situation.”

The McLaren driver believes Verstappen tried to keep him behind by turning towards him as he overtook.

“It was quite clear he tried to do that,” Norris said when asked if he felt Verstappen had been trying to keep him behind. “I mean, there’s no rule on doing what you can do, but doing what he did is something that you cannot do.”

Asked if he would expect a penalty if he had been in Verstappen’s position, Norris replied: “Oh yeah, for sure.”

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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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17 comments on “Norris rejects Red Bull claim he broke ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in Q3 near-miss”

  1. The supposed “Gentleman’s Agreement” has been broken more times than it has been adhered to.
    Not to mention that it isn’t a sporting regulation – but 33.4 is.

    If this were any other series, it would be a certain penalty. But in F1 – the default is to not apply the written rules.
    Can’t upset the big teams.

    Even though Verstappen will almost certainly win the race and championship regardless.

    1. Absolutely. If it was Latifi or Schumacher or Magnusson or pretty much any driver not in the top 3 teams I’m pretty certain there would have been penalties.

      It seems stewards are very harsh on any driver outside of those teams.

      Sooner or later there’s going to be a major crash in qualifying and the hand wringing will start.

        1. A penalty has been handed out in the form of a reprimand. Which is the same or worse than comparable cases in the past. No prior examples have resulted in worse penalties like grid drops or the like.

    2. Worse still: Vettel was basically …. over by being the only driver to follow the ‘agreement’ in Austria last year. FIA’s F1 stewards are among the worst in motorsport when it comes to following the rules, but that’s by design so it won’t change.

      Norris is also probably right that he would have been penalized in a similar situation, as anyone in the midfield or back would have been. But the FIA penalizing the champion-to-be at his engine supplier’s home race? No chance.

      1. What was than the reason Lewis didn’t get a penalty for this?
        No engine from brasil

        1. quoted FIA race director Whiting as saying ‘no one had done anything wrong’ (referring to the Hamilton-Sirotkin incident). The stewards the FIA appointed, who were probably as independent and critical as always, apparently agreed completely and without reservation as they didn’t investigate it.

          Amusingly, also quotes Hamilton as saying the Williams driver was ‘disrespectful’. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.

  2. For an agreement, you need two or more parties “on the same page” – not sure if that was the case.
    For a gentlemen’s agreement, you need two or more gentlemen – definitely not the case.

    and, yes, he’s going to win his first championship, probably this weekend.

    1. Gentlemen in modern racing, at this level?!?! Good joke!

    2. For all the hurt and tears, he’s going to win his second. Sorry Steve, but it’s time to move on. Max drove like a champ last year, was more unfortunate, and made less points-costing mistakes than Lewis did.

      1. But Lewis won more legitimate points than Max last year, and that’s what the Championship is awarded for. Max drove like a desperate bully and a churlish child.

  3. I suppose Norris has not seen Verstappen’s onboard. Versappen simply slid, almost spun. No intention to block Norris.

    1. 99% of the incidents that happen on the track aren’t intentional.

      Yet penalties are issues for most of these 99%.

  4. There was no reason for Norris to be going as fast as he was. He created the incident in the first place and I say that as a McLaren fan.

    1. What do you mean there was no reason? It’s R130, from there they launch in the hot lap in qualy. The incident was just a bit before the chicane. Everybody floors it there in qualy.
      I would say he expected Max to have bolted too to start his hot lap. Both were on outlaps.
      Definitely there was no malicious intent from Max and Lando was not able to see him lose the back there.

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