Lando Norris, McLaren, Suzuka, 2023

Norris and Leclerc want tougher penalties after Verstappen’s reprimand for impeding

Formula 1

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Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc believe the FIA should impose harsher penalties on drivers who are deemed to have impeded rivals in qualifying.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was investigated for a trio of impeding incidents after qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. None resulted in a grid penalty but two led to reprimands, one of which was for impeding Yuki Tsunoda early in Q2.

Verstappen had just completed his first timed run of the session and passed Tsunoda, corner who was on his out-lap, before the final corner. After backing off on his way back to the pits Verstappen delayed Tsunoda on his flying lap, leading the AlphaTauri driver to abandon his effort.

After a stewards’ investigation – which Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri team did not attend – Verstappen received a driving reprimand and Red Bull were fined €5,000 (£4,317) for failing to warn their driver about Tsunoda behind.

Verstappen was also reprimanded for a separate impeding incident after he remained stationary for 14 seconds at the pit lane exit at the end of Q1. He was also investigated for impeding Logan Sargeant at the end of the lap in Q1, but the stewards ruled Verstappen committed no infringement in that case.

Several other drivers have collected grid penalties for impeding over the course of the season. Speaking ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Norris said Verstappen’s blocking of Tsunoda should have come with a stronger penalty.

“I don’t want to say too much, ’cause I’ll just create controversy, but I think the blocking one on track was the one that should’ve been a penalty,” said Norris.

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“He blocked someone. It’s not just down to the team. I know the team got the fine at the end of the day, but it should be down to the driver as well to look in his mirrors. You’ve got nothing else to do the whole lap, but look in your mirrors. And it seems like a lot of people struggle to do that.”

Leclerc said that he had been “a bit surprised” that Verstappen had only been reprimanded for stopping at the end of the pitlane.

“That could open quite bad situations in the future,” Leclerc said. “But it’s always an open discussion with the FIA and trying to explain to them what our point of view is and improve. I’m sure we’ll have that discussion tomorrow evening at the briefing.”

Norris called for tougher punishments when drivers are deemed to impede rivals during qualifying sessions.

“I think it should just be harsher penalties for blocking people because so many people do it,” he said. “It ruins your lap, ruins your qualifying. It put Yuki out in qualifying and he was P1 in Q1.

“No one seems to care enough and it’s happened a lot this season, happened to me quite a few times, especially with certain teams, but it’s also down to the driver to look in the mirror. They’ve got nothing else to do but hit the recharge button and look in the mirror and people seem to struggle to be able to do that in Formula 1, which is a surprise.”

“I’ll probably block someone now this weekend and make myself look stupid,” Norris added. Last year Verstappen was given a reprimand for impeding Norris during qualifying at Suzuka.

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Tsunoda was reluctant to discuss the incident involving a driver from AlphaTauri’s senior team, but said he sought guidance from the FIA after receiving two separate grid penalties in 2023 for impeding rivals in Montreal and Zandvoort.

“I don’t want to really talk about Singapore, but in general, to be honest it feels like I’m the one getting quite consistent penalties,” Tsunoda said. “But it is what it is.

“I spoke with the FIA actually in Monza, so I could understand what they were thinking in general.”

Tsunoda has been investigated over 14 incidents in the opening 15 rounds of the championship – more than any other driver 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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42 comments on “Norris and Leclerc want tougher penalties after Verstappen’s reprimand for impeding”

  1. “Tsunoda has been investigated over 14 incidents in the opening 15 rounds of the championship – more than any other driver on the grid”
    Oh Yuki!

  2. Yes, perhaps a 10-place grid penalty rather than the standard 3 & especially reprimand like last weekend.

    1. I think a penalty point and a 5-place grid drop is a balanced enough punishment. Any type of financial reprimand means nothing to a team or a driver, they understand that grid positions matter and that missing a race weekend due to amassing too many penalty points could be catastrophic. I don’t know the intricacies of the points on the drivers license, it seems like the driver would be out and the team is free to put in a reserve, however the real penalty ought to be that the drivers’ car is suspended from participation impacting both Championships.

      1. Penalty points are useless, remember: no driver has been banned because of reaching 12 penalty points and when a driver should have (gasly) they turned a blind eye and will again.

        1. Kinda like the 107% rule
          Normaly you get away with a request, stating the free practice times were competative.

          Even with a new car that even didnt have an engine in until qually in the first race of the season they got away with it.

    2. I actually think the standard 3 are plenty, thinking of vettel in austria 2018, so a championship contender impeding a midfield driver (sainz) and that driver still made it through, losing 3 important places in the championship race, seems harsh enough.

      The problem is consistency, stuff like singapore can’t stand when other drivers are getting actual penalties in other race weekends, otherwise the singapore standard has to become the norm, and if that happens you’d see impeding left and right, as it would actually be beneficial to block opponents.

  3. It should be mandatory for teams to show up at the steward’s request. Many big teams have connections with teams and drivers down below the grid, so if this sort of thing isn’t deal with we might end up with more situations where the smaller team lets the big team off the hook.

    It was just a slam dunk penalty that one…

    1. It’s not ‘many’ but ‘all’ teams having connections to other teams up and down the grid.
      That’s due to the PU situation and it being legal to not design your own parts and just buy them from another team.
      That creates a dependency that we’ve seen exploited many times before, with drivers being ‘on loan’ and all.
      So this situation isn’t new at all, it’s just been made obvious again.

      I’d like to see the root of it solved, instead of having more patch up rules. Increasing the list of ‘buyable’ parts is a tendency that’s been going on for a while, and it’s counterproductive.

      As for ‘slam dunk’: Irrespective of whether I agree on the opinion or not, if it was, there wouldn’t be a reason to hear both sides. That in itself is a good aspect. But that’s a privilege that comes with a responsability, so I agree on that it should be mandatory to attend.

      1. There’s nothing wrong with buyable parts, but there is something wrong with the supplier getting power over the other team. Fixed prices, exactly same parts, non-collusion rules… And same owner of multiple teams should be completely out of the question.

        1. Coventry Climax
          22nd September 2023, 1:25

          But -my opinion- there is something wrong with buyable parts, when there’s a constructor’s championship going on.
          Let’s look at the extreme end, where, for a specific team, everything was bought. For some lucky reason, they end up being the manufacturers champions that season – without having designed anything at all. To me, that’s not right. It’s like scoring a hit and take all the credits with somebody else’s song.

          Also, I understand what you say, but that’s hard to control, check, enforce etc. The power units usually come with a couple -part time- mechanics. They could do a below par job and it would be hard to prove.

          1. Practically ‘owning’ another team, and utilizing the B-team to strategically support the main team is the main issue.

    2. Agree it was a slam dunk penalty. If Bernie was still around, we’d be blaming him for ensuring Max started a little higher up, rather than the very back of the grid.. all for “the show”.

    3. I think the FIA has had its head in the sand for years over the connections issue. Michael Schumacher was a great driver, but you could help but notice how Ralph would jump out of the way when he was being lapped by his brother but be as wide as a bus when the chasing rivals came up behind him. When Vettel did his amazing drive from the back of the pack to win his WDC, it was pretty obvious that the Toro Rossos, who should have been racing for position with him, were pretty well waving him through. When you see such blatant things on track, you can only guess at the deals going on behind the scenes between teams.

    1. Except that claim has been debunked and it has been confirmed that the team were issued with a summons, just as every other team during that same weekend received.

      It seems that even Max himself told some of his mechanics after qualifying that “we’re going to get a penalty for that”, so even he thought he was at fault there.

      1. Any source for that storyline?

        1. Irrelevant Osnola, if you lack information go get it!

          1. Makes false claim, tells the person asking for evidence to do their own research. Hmm…

    2. Well that solves it! Vestappen did no wrong! Osnola your type of fandom “se no evil be no evil” is evil. You wouldn’t believe your mother i another Verstappen raped her!

  4. My view on this is the same as it has always been. Penalties should be reserved for incidents where impeding is reckless or deliberate. The rest of the time, you’re on your own – finding enough space for a clear lap is part of the challenge of qualifying, and it should be the responsibility of the trailing driver to make sure they get clean air.

    1. I would also like to expand this to the race. I want to see less of the stewards. If the incident is reckless or deliberate then it should be investigated and a penalty should be applied. Outside of this, let them get on with it. They are sharing the same track and at times are going to be fighting over the same bit of tarmac.

    2. The problem with this is that such cases are often also dangerous. One of the worst examples is Gasly nearly being launched into a Baku apartment building on the run down from the castle section, in 2018 or so.

      By staying on top of the issue, that can hopefully be avoided.

    3. I like the sentiment but you are going to end up with a lot of strategic “accidental” impeding in qualifying. Or people just saying my tire prep demanded I not let you by.

    4. @red-andy True enough but

      it should be the responsibility of the trailing driver to make sure they get clean air

      applies how if you can’t get out on track? Why blocking the pit lane has to be taken as deliberate and a penalty, not a reprimand.

      1. applies how if you can’t get out on track? Why blocking the pit lane has to be taken as deliberate and a penalty, not a reprimand.

        and co-incidentally block the path of both Mercedes cars, who were following the same routine they did in all previous q1/q2 runs.
        Definitely accidental, wouldn’t you say?

  5. Tsunoda is obviously absorbing all penalties directed at that 4-drivers team.

    It’s probably his job to take the fall.

    1. I guess had he hit verstappen he would’ve taken a penalty for hitting another driver, just cause of being in alpha tauri ofc, as I noticed backmarker teams seem to be hit by more penalties.

  6. Verstappen’s behavior last week was egregious as was the fact that he didn’t get a penalty. Everyone’s laughing about it. It’s good that you can impede without any penalties from now on as you can only get a penalty after 3 infringements.

    1. Not even that, 5 infringiments! And we know penalty points are no longer given when you’re at risk of a ban, so I guess the same goes for infringiments: when you’re close to being penalised for too many infringiments, you suddenly are immune to them!

    2. Th stewards will be super-tough this weekend, anyone even remotely impeding anyone else will be slapped with a grid penalty. Of course, Max will be on best behaviour, so this will only catch out those other drivers who think they can get away with driving like Max. And when fans complain, they’ll be gaslit with “You said you wanted FIA to clamp down on impeding with grid penalties, now FIA are doing that, but you don’t like it still??”
      Essentially, in any situation like this, either Max wins or his rivals lose – and the FIA walks away with a grin.

  7. This means Lando and Charles are going to get impeding penalties …..

    1. Absolutely, the only thing that’s consistent with the FIA is the inconsistency.

    2. @macleod yeah, they may be doing drive-through on behalf of Max’s infringements.

  8. VER parked in pit lane was egregious. The team should not release him until he has a window. They could just release the RBs and then have Yuki park in pit lane so no one else can go out for a final run.

    1. @jimfromus oops, I may have hit Report Comment by accident instead of reply. My apologies @jimfromus.

      I agree – Yuki can just stop everyone and then Alpha Tauri just won’t show up again and they’ll get no penalty since a no show = no penalty according to the new regulations.

      1. They must really look into this “scapegoat using”, in hungary 2021 merc could use bottas to take out 3 opponents without repercussions, cause anyway it was hamilton fighting for the title, not bottas, and constructor’s wise it was a net gain.

        Brazil 2018 merc could use ocon to take out verstappen when lapped, privileges of supplying the engine to force india.

        And like you said here, even if you give the harshest penalty to tsunoda or alpha tauri, you don’t hit red bull, something must be some, some kind of evaluation to say: these 2 teams are basically the same, one is blocking the opponents while the other is out on track, let’s disqualify both teams from the session.

  9. Leclerc lost 3 places in Monaco due to blocking. Instead for Verstappen nothing. The FIA has a long history of protecting Verstappen.

  10. I’ve been watching F1 for decades and have always thought the FIA was fishy. I’ve written it off as “the President at the time” is biased or “it was the Race Director’s error(s)” but really there seems to be something more fundamental because even as the leaders change and the staff resign the fishy smell around the FIA never seems to dissipate. Makes me wonder if the teams would be better off with a breakaway series in the event a future Concorde agreement fails.

    1. The teams are actually the biggest problem; many other FIA series handle such things much better. Alas, the commercial interests in F1 are just too important to have it otherwise. And the FIA knows this, so they appoint stewards to the F1 races who have a bit of flexibility and a ‘feel’ for the way the winds are blowing. As David Coulthard once quipped; it’s too much a business to be a sport. To which he added that the opposite was also true. It’s always a give and take in F1.

  11. Maybe there is a technological solution. Based on gps if a car is closing on you at a threshold average rate then you get a light on the dash. This wont be fool proof because the car could actually be not on a hot lap but we can get rid of the times a driver says wasn’t told that a car on a fast lap is closing in at 150kph.

  12. I also don’t agree with Ferrari not being penalized when they failed to make the minimum time in qualification because they had to avoid impeding cars on a fast lap. What? They just need to stay off the racing line during their warm up lap. I don’t see that as an excuse for going too slowly around the track. They can’t make corners off the racing line at warm up lap speed. No exceptions to these rules.

  13. @Keithcollantine as you might remember, I’m an occaisional commenter and in general more of a lurker. I surf this site mostly on my iphone. The McLaren add with the black lay-over constantly makes the whole site black. I can circumvent that with reader mode, but I can’t read the comments as ith’s blacked over with just the black of the add. Also, the ‘close this’ cross on the top right sometimes works, but mostly it just opens the site from the add.

    The overall experience is so bad, I just had to let you know (it is bad since you have this add, but I just am annoyed enough to comment now.) I sincerely like what you did with this site, but the general concept of having customers paying to advertise and other customers paying to not see the adds seems strange. And yes, I know this is a business model used by many sites.

    I’m not bothered with the “Look how this single mum from Bumlaware makes 8000 dollars per week without working” adds. But an add which just makes the site black without a real option to close (or blacking out within 20 seconds after you close it!) … really off putting.

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