Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022

Verstappen’s pole confirmed as stewards hand him reprimand for Norris near-miss

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen will start the Japanese Grand Prix from pole position after the stewards decided not to hand him a grid drop for his incident with Lando Norris in qualifying.

The Red Bull driver has been given a reprimand over the near-miss in which Norris was forced onto the grass when the pair met on-track at the start of Q3.

Verstappen was investigated by the stewards after he appeared to lurch towards Norris at the exit of the fast 130R corner as the McLaren driver moved to pass him.

Norris said he felt Verstappen’s move to the left was an intentional move to discourage him from overtaking before they began their flying laps. Verstappen said that the move was not deliberate and had simply lost traction on cold tyres as he tried to generate heat into them before starting his timed lap.

After speaking to both drivers involved, the stewards agreed with Verstappen but handed him a reprimand for the near-miss, deeming it not to have been a deliberate action by Verstappen in reaction to Norris trying to pass him.

“The driver of car one [Verstappen] was aware of car 55 [Carlos Sainz Jnr] in front and car four [Norris] approaching from behind and decided to accelerate at precisely the same time as car four decided to overtake car one,” the stewards explained.

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“Unfortunately, due to lack of tyre temperature on car one, the driver temporarily lost control of the car causing it to ‘snap’ anti-clockwise.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying day in pictures
The stewards described that Norris had agreed in the stewards’ room that Verstappen’s move was an unintentional loss of grip, rather than a deliberate action to defend his track position. However, the stewards also felt that the dangerous circumstances around the incident was worthy of a reprimand for the championship leader.

“The driver of car four stated that this was simply an unfortunate incident, however it is the driver’s responsibility to at all times maintain control of their car,” the stewards continued.

“Regarding penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a reprimand hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case.”

Verstappen will start from pole position with the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr immediately behind him. The championship leader will secure this year’s drivers’ world championship if he wins tomorrow’s race and takes the bonus point for fastest lap. Norris will start the race from tenth on the grid.

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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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51 comments on “Verstappen’s pole confirmed as stewards hand him reprimand for Norris near-miss”

  1. Only logical outcome.

  2. A reprimand was ultimately the right decision based on previous precedent(s).

    1. @jerejj
      I agree with you, the stewards are at least consistent in not enforcing the rules.

      1. @tifoso1989
        I meant reprimand is wholly in line with previous similar incidents, so consistent rule application in this regard.

    2. The FIA is a global organization with multiple written rulebooks per series, totaling hundreds of pages of rules and potential penalties. This isn’t a common law situation, as much as English-dominated F1 might want to pretend otherwise.

      However, in F1 other interests (i.e. the show) take precedence over the actual rules and helpfully, the FIA has a nice way of circumventing their own rules: they get to nominate the stewards. So unsurprisingly, they tend to pick the same thirty or so people who ‘play along’ and won’t be too harsh in their application of the rules. The teams, who usually benefit from this lackluster approach, applaud the FIA for ‘letting them race’.

  3. Well that’s in line with the previous decisions. Hamilton didn’t receive a penalty from similar incident at Brazil 2018 either.
    But in the future for sure these should be penalised, and harshly.

    1. I thought the difference was that Hamilton was trying to get to the dead side of the track, out of the way of cars going at a reasonable clip whereas Max appeared to be trying to occupy the racing line with such urgency that he lost control.

      1. Neglected – I also think Hamilton should have got a penalty for his mistake and scale this one off that.

  4. That was a slam dunk penalty,

    If that was Yuki Tsunoda, 100% it would have been a 5 place grid penalty.

    If you think otherwise then your probably Dutch.

    1. I’m not Dutch – but I think the call was right. Yes it was dangerous, but the key factor is Lando was on an out lap also. If Lando was on a ‘flyer’ and Max had put him on the grass I think it’d be a very different story. Max lost the rears and forced Landon on to the grass, but there was no reason for either Max or his engineer to expect Lando to come round 130R at that speed.

      Was it dangerous? Yes. Could Max have done better? Yes.

      But to penalise drivers who get a milliseconds notice of an approaching car at speed sets an even more dangerous precedent. Drivers will know they can launch themselves from behind blind corners knowing they’ll be in the right regardless of what happens.

      Max wasn’t trying to block Lando off, just accelerate. It was silly. But it’s one of the quirks of our modern qualifying – cars a at massively varying speeds and vying for space. There must be some kind of rule that could rule this sort of stuff out. Minimum / Maximum distances between cars after sector one? I dunno – there’s all kinds of complications (those that do two flying laps etc). But there must be a relatively easy solution?

      Monza 19′ is still my favourite qualifying though. When everyone managed to both get in everyone else’s way whilst not quite managing to get in their way enough.

      1. @bernasaurus
        Ben has a point though. We’ve seen this countless times with the FIA treating the same infringement differently depending on which driver is involved.

        RBR and Mercedes with Verstappen and Hamilton who are the cash cows of the sport, get first class treatment. Then their second drivers, the Ferrari drivers and Fernando Alonso who seems to be treated softly after he pointed out how drivers are treated differently depending on their nationalities get business class treatment. The rest of the grid get the economy class treatment.

      2. Was it dangerous? Yes.

        Penalty, then.
        A real one.

        1. There must be some kind of rule that could rule this sort of stuff out.

          Conveniently, @bernasaurus, there is. F1 Sporting Regulations Article 33.4.

        2. A really serious view of a potentially fatal accident ought to mean at least 5 place grid drop, I’d have said start from pit lane. It would also help to avoid Max wrapping up this lame duck season too early. Bernie would have seized the moment to put back the Championship another race at least.
          And don’t expect the budget findings to be anything but ‘minor’ overspends that would not provide performance advantages!! Come back Bernie – at least we could laugh at the decisions.

    2. “Regarding penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a reprimand hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case.”

    3. I am an italian ferrary fan with no love for Verstappen, and frankly I would have found a grid penalty for this incident blatant manipulation and not consistent with past behaviour.
      I DO think it’s a very bad thing that took place, and probably both ought to have been penalised, but the rules first need to be clarified and reinforced, THEN you can enforce them.
      Any other outcome today would have been less good.

  5. What a rubbish decision.
    There couldn’t be a clearer penalty in F1 – which, no doubt, is the exact reason that there isn’t one.

    1. It was so obvious that you would come back with another silly uninformed comment on this matter. You obviously believe that you are better able to analyze a situation more comprehensively than the stewards even though you have 1/50th of the information that they have. They even talk to the drivers. How come you don’t do that? You are not equipped to make these calls so stop deluding yourself. If I was a steward I would have give Lando a reprimand as well but I’m not so I accept their decision with good grace and move on. Try it sometime. Then we can be spared your rantings and ravings.

      1. You obviously believe that you are better able to analyze a situation more comprehensively than the stewards even though you have 1/50th of the information that they have.

        I know how to read rules and apply them, yes. How do you know what information I have or don’t have? I certainly know when a competitor is not adhering to F1 Sporting Regulation 33.4 – in reality and/or ‘in spirit.’

        They even talk to the drivers. How come you don’t do that?

        What if I did? Would you believe me then? How could I prove it to you?
        It’s clearly not necessary to do that in this instance, as the video tells us everything we need to know.

        You are not equipped to make these calls so stop deluding yourself.

        No delusions from my side. How many rules are you suggesting should be ignored? Or have you never read them yourself?

        If I was a steward I would have give Lando a reprimand as well

        Really? For what? Which rule did he break?

        Then we can be spared your rantings and ravings.

        This is a public comments section – you can ignore me any time. Feel free to start now.

        1. With all your data, can you please confirm the following:

          Did any other driver go the same speed (or slower) through the section when compared to Verstappen.

          What exactly was discussed during the drivers briefing in regards to behaviour during qualifying.

          Was Max informed over the radio of Norris approaching?

          At what point was Verstappen aware Norris was behind him? Was he in a blind spot?

          What did Verstappen’s data show in regards to throttle/brake input. A graph showing the traces would be useful.

          What did Lando and Max say to back up their case – any extenuating circumstances?

          Obviously if you’re in a better position to enforce the rules than the FIA, this should be a straightforward task. Thanks.

          1. 1) No.
            2) Race Director’s Notes specifically mention that drivers must not drive excessively slowly, and must stay off line between Turns 14 & 16 on slow laps (130R is Turn 15). Verstappen breached this.
            In addition to the RD Notes, F1’s sporting Regulations (including Article 33.4) and the FIA’s ISC apply at all times. Verstappen breached this.
            3), 4) and 5) are results of not complying with the RD Notes and Sporting Regs. Verstappen should never have been going slowly there on the racing line.
            Verstappen had just passed Norris on the straight and then proceeded to slow. He should have been aware regardless of any team communication. It’s his responsibility to check, to seek that information when he can’t, and to read and fully understand the notes and the regulations at all times.
            6) No mitigating circumstances that can justify this incident. Their post-qualifying comments have been published (I saw them both on Sky – Verstappen’s are on this site, but I’m sure they are both published elsewhere too).

            You’re welcome.

    2. Verstappen:
      – was not in control of his F1 car (Article IV.2.d on Driving Conduct)
      – drove unnecessarily slowly (Article IV.2.e on Driving Conduct)
      – drove erratically (Article IV.2.e on Driving Conduct)
      – drove in a manner that was potentially dangerous to other drivers (Article IV.2.e on Driving Conduct)
      – hindered another driver (Article V.2.b on Driving Conduct)
      – made an abnormal change of direction (Article V.2.b on Driving Conduct)

      Even just the first one allows the stewards to outright disqualify a driver. But in F1, the ‘no penalties ever*’ precedence clearly trump the written rules.

      I don’t mind if Verstappen has a penalty or not, but the FIA should just delete the rules they don’t care about. This way it’d be fairer for everyone because everyone would know what is allowed.

      *Unless the driver is in a back of the field car.

      1. Yep, basically.
        F1’s approach to rules application just leaves everyone in a state of suspension. Nobody ever knows what they will do.
        Sometimes that’s justifiable – even a good thing – but sometimes it’s just a complete embarrassment and danger to the competitors and the competition.

      2. Agree,it’s a clear penalty, he deliberately turned in to try to stop Norris overtaking then accelerated & lost the back end.

    3. “Regarding penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a reprimand hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case.”

  6. I know it’s not in the rulebook but I thought it was etiquette not to overtake someone at the end of an out lap before you are both looking to start a hot lap. From a rule book perspective however Verstappen is at fault for forcing a driver off track. I think ultimately a repremand is the right call.

    1. Exactly- when Verstappen saw Norris coming and tried to close the door and lost the rear he was just following proper etiquette, he should be thanked by everyone not scolded.

  7. Out laps, formation laps, driving behind the safety car paragraphs… should all be erased from next year’s rulebook because nobody is respecting them and the FIA do not bother enforcing them. Same is also valid for the budget cap rules as the delay in issuing the certificates is an indication that the FIA are working to adjust the penalty so the outcome of the championship will not be changed just like they did with Perez in Singapore.

  8. I wish this season had already ended

    1. It basically has.

      1. Of course it has but I’m not used to skip races so I’ll just have to bore to death

  9. I’m not a Verstappen fan but totally agree. Norris was going rather fast and Verstappen didn’t do it deliberately. He fired up the rears by accident. I wonder if Norris will take back his statement which claimed Verstappen tried to block him once he’s looked at it again.

    1. Verstappen wouldn’t have had wheelspin if he’d been doing a sensible speed though, @davidhunter13.
      It also would have been less of an issue if he’d been doing that slow speed on the left shoulder of the track – far, far away from the racing line. But still illegal.

      Norris may well retract his comment about Verstappen turning deliberately – but he’s still completely accurate about him being so slow and a danger to others.

      1. Norris is very immature. Both with the overtake on the outlap and his comments about the situation afterwards.
        It’s a good call not the give a penalty for this. Otherwise you will see tricks like this every F1 weekend in qualifying.

        1. I disagree completely.
          The only way to prevent stuff like this from happening repeatedly is to penalise Verstappen’s behaviour.
          It was both illegal and immoral.

          I wonder what these comments sections would look like if Norris had hit Verstappen and it had resulted in a crash?

          1. Well, Verstappen slid with the rear of his car and lost control for a brief moment. It’s hard to prevent that, right?
            The action of Norris was totally unnecessary.

          2. Well, Verstappen slid with the rear of his car and lost control for a brief moment. It’s hard to prevent that, right?

            No. It’s actually really easy to prevent it by not slowing so much unnecessarily (and illegally).

            The action of Norris was totally unnecessary.

            Yeah, it was. But it was completely legal.

          3. It is not illegal at all. And I think we can better trust Max on how to prepare for a flying run, what to do and what not to do ramping up to the last corner. The situation that unfolded was not what anyone wanted, clearly, but a combination of wheel spin and an illogical attempt to overtake.

          4. Well, the slowing down wasn’t ruled illegal by the stewards. Nor the brief loss of control of the car. And that’s the correct call omho.

            But nice to see we agree on the fact that the action of Norris was unnecessary ;-).

    2. you blame a F1 driver for going rather fast? I thought that was the objective of all of them, my mistake.

    3. Bailiff, whack his pee-pee.

  10. Every other driver would have got a grid penalty for this.

  11. Alonso is taking notes for his next qualifying stunt.

  12. Four clickbait articles for the usual crowd of RedBull/Horner/Marko/Verstappen haters to spout their stuff but anyway, the top 3 cars covered by 57 thousandths of a second, impressive stuff. This year qualifying has been far more interesting than previous years of who would start third after the Mercs.

  13. This was an extremely dangerous near miss, and consistently not really punishing it reminds me of how they repeatedly never penalised speeding through double yellow flags… and then blamed Bianchi’s crash solely on him driving too fast through double yellows…

    It will be a situation like this one which is most likely to lead to the next driver’s death so they really need to clamp down on it. Or at least virtually half the risk by moving the qualifying timing line to before the pit entrace as is done by Indycar, thus halving the slow traffic.

    I entirely believe that Max didn’t do it deliberately, but that is really not much of a defence. I do appreciate that Lando was in Max’s blind spot throughout the corner, so that’s a strong defence. But it was clearly an erratic and dangerous move directly contravening basically all of article 33.4 so should have led to some grid drop penalty.

  14. Max does look into his mirrors and tries to block norris on purpose. If that was in any doubt maxs own explanation aftwr qualy is fact enough that he felt agrieved that norris was overtaking him. He is a cheat. Simple as that. And fia once again are applying the rules biasely. Its not about historical precedent its about the incident on the day. And today it was a clear block.

    1. It is pretty clear it’s on purpose and people will harp on about him and Hamilton when it’s always been about his questionable driving standards that have never been penalised and just allowed to get worse and worse. Because let’s be honest he’s quite the equal opportunist on who he has off as name no mistake, in lap, out lap, unlapping yourself or heaven forbid a race pass he will not let you past at any cost.

  15. As Vertappen didn’t do it on purpose, a reprimand seems fair. But as Alesici, the FIA must clamp down on these situation or it could end very badly the next time. In fact, we were lucky it ended well this time.

    1. Not doing it on purpose as far as I saw is no defense, vettel was penalised for less in other qualifying sessions at ferrari, I think what saved verstappen was that they were both on outlaps. Think that sainz in austria in that occasion was on a flying lap but didn’t need that time to make it to the next quali session, even so vettel was penalised for accidental impeding.

  16. Both were summoned, talked about what happened. Max was told to do better next time. Both shook hands and walked away. End of story. Some reactions here are really sad. Luckily we have the FIA.

  17. Where do we begin?
    Norris was going too fast on the race track. – It’s called racing, Red Bull.
    The “gentleman’s” agreement only helps one team. As the commentators said at the time, Red Bull wants to go slowly as possible for their car to work best. Other teams need their tires warmer to work best.
    I thought F1 had issues in the past with cars coming to a near stop before starting the flying lap and I thought there were rules against it? Apparent as long as it is a RB crawling, it is fine.
    The reprimand is appropriate if that is the usual penalty.

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