Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Norris denies taking risk at start but Hamilton says he needed to be “patient”

2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Lando Norris isn’t convinced he would have been able to finish in the points if he hadn’t tangled with Lewis Hamilton on the first lap of the Spanish Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver started the Spanish Grand Prix from third on the grid, but had to pit at the end of lap one after damaging his front wing in contact with the Mercedes. Hamilton appeared to be unaffected by the collision and went on to finish second.

The collision “was a tough one,” said Norris in response to a question from RaceFans. “I think more just a racing incident.”

Norris arrived at turn two behind race leader Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Hamilton. He suspected Verstappen ran wide, though the Red Bull driver did not appear to.

Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
“I didn’t see in turn one that Max went off the track – I think it was Max – went a bit wide, so then he had to bounce over the kerb in turn two and then everyone just checked up and I was too close to Lewis to be able to react, to brake and whatever. So just unlucky in my opinion.”

He said he didn’t “gamble” on trying to make up a place in the corner. “It’s just they braked in turn two, they normally never brake in turn two. Just unlucky that was all.”

“Lewis was fine,” Norris added. “He didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t an incident, it was just unlucky, nothing more than that.

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“Just checked up and I didn’t know that he was going to check up and I just touched Lewis as well. Obviously nothing happened to him. Maybe it made him quicker today!”

After rejoining the race at the back of the field, Norris took the chequered flag in 17th. He said the team did not expect to match its strong qualifying performance in race trim.

Race start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023
Poll: Vote for your 2023 Spanish Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
“The pace was as we expected today which was bad,” he said. “Our aim was to maybe finish in the points if we could but we weren’t expecting anything like yesterday.”

Norris’ team mate Oscar Piastri started ninth but also finished out of the points in 13th. Asked whether he could have scored points from third without the first-lap clash, Norris said: “Probably not.”

“Because we’re slow, we have been all year,” he explained. “There’s nothing else to say.

“The car’s not any different. Yesterday was a special day. Some good teams struggled a lot and some of the worst teams did a better job. So it was just an odd day, people making a lot of mistakes and we just capitalised on that.

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“Apart from that, we’ve been off the pace all season, struggling to finish in the points in half the races. And today was just that again.

“So there was the expectation that we would have a very difficult day today. We’re clearly nowhere near as quick as Alpine, Aston or all of these top five or six teams. So there’s no point thinking at the minute we’re going to finish in the points because we’re just not quick enough.”

However Hamilton said his rival could have had a good result if he hadn’t risked so much at the start.

“I just felt a big hit from behind,” said the Mercedes driver. “Obviously Max and Carlos went quite wide and deep into turn one and they were coming back across and I basically got in the wake so I had to be patient and then I got hit from behind.

“It was a shame for Lando because he did such an amazing job yesterday. It’s great to see McLaren up there on the second row.

“I think today, probably even if he was ahead of me going into the corner, we would have overtaken him. We had slightly more pace I would say probably race trim-wise.

“So it ended up not being a great result for him. But if he was just a little bit more patient today, I think he would have had probably a better result. But we live and we learn.”

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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3 comments on “Norris denies taking risk at start but Hamilton says he needed to be “patient””

  1. Whilst I do feel it was a racing incident, I also think that had Hamilton’s race have been affected then Lando would have had a penalty. Hamilton had completed his pass and needed to slow due, which Lando had missed.

  2. Wasnt it this track last year where Hamilton picked up a puncture from Magnussen in a similar move right at the start. This could so easily have been a carbon copy of that race

  3. The trouble is, Lando didn’t take a risk & it cost him. He broke way before anyone else around him into T1 & that cost him places & then the damage. He needed to take more of a risk or at least brake when everyone else did.

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