Norris accuses Perez of costing him “10 seconds” during VSC period

Formula 1

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Lando Norris was infuriated at losing a significant amount of time behind Sergio Perez during a Virtual Safety Car period in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was pursuing Perez’s team mate Max Verstappen, who was leading the race, when the Virtual Safety Car period began on lap 14. It was triggered after Perez collided with Kevin Magnussen while trying to pass the Haas driver.

Perez emerged from the pits shortly before the VSC period began and immediately reported his car was handling badly. Verstappen swept by him in the lead and the VSC was deployed seconds later.

Although drivers were required to slow to the same speed under the VSC, Norris caught Perez, and was unsure whether he was allowed to pass the Red Bull driver. In an increasingly frustrated exchange with his race engineer Will Joseph, Norris repeatedly asked whether he should pass Perez. Joseph even suggested Perez could be “doing it on purpose” to delay Norris’ pursuit of Verstappen.

Norris first caught Perez as they rounded Dunlop, turn seven. He spent around a minute stuck behind the Red Bull before passing it as they rounded Spoon curve, turn 13, at which point the pair came close to colliding.

After the race Norris said he still had “no idea” why Perez had been driving slower than the reduced speed limit imposed under the VSC.

“He must have had a problem, right? But the thing is you can’t overtake under VSC unless it’s obvious that guy has a problem.

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“I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t know if he had a problem, whether he was just backing me up. I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him.”

Perez reduced his speed even further shortly before the VSC period ended, said Norris. “He was going so slow and then when we you the flashing dash for ‘VSC ending’, he like went into first gear.

“I was on the outside of him because he was going so slow, and then he almost crashed into me.”

Norris grew increasingly frustrated as he lost time to Verstappen ahead of him and Charles Leclerc behind in third place.

“I was shouting in my helmet, I was swearing quite a bit. I just got so confused. I didn’t know what I could do.

“I’m losing time to Max, the Ferrari guys were, I think, 1.4 seconds behind me after being, I think 12 or 13 [behind]. So I lost 10 seconds and it’s just I didn’t know what I could do at the time.”

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Perez should have made it clear he had to drive slowly, said Norris. “If he has a problem, he should pull over and make it obvious that he has a problem. He didn’t, and therefore I couldn’t take the risk of passing under a VSC.”

The time lost meant Norris dropped behind his team mate Oscar Piastri when he pitted. He went on to finish almost 20 seconds behind race-winner Verstappen.

However Norris doesn’t believe Perez’s slow driving cost him a chance to fight Verstappen for victory.

“I don’t think it would have changed the world, just made me stressed for a little bit more. But it would have been, maybe just a bit better to put Max under a little bit of pressure at least after that, I don’t think we would have been quite as far behind.

So, a frustrating time. Maybe I’ll ask next time what you’re allowed to do but I think I did the right thing, so all okay.”

Norris’ radio messages during VSC period

JosephVirtual Safety Car deployed. Virtual Safety Car deployed.
JosephDouble yellows turn 10 to turn 11.
NorrisDoes this car… does Perez have a problem? Because he’s going very, very slowly.
JosephHe’s had multiple problems, and another stop.
NorrisYes, but I need to know if I can pass him.
NorrisI’m five seconds down, he’s just holding me up now.
JosephYeah I know.
NorrisHe must have a problem.
JosephOr he’s doing it on purpose?
NorrisYeah but he can’t be going this slowly.
JosephLando if the Safety Car is not ending we will box this lap. If it is not ending we will box this lap.
NorrisYes. I need to know if I can pass him.
JosephI know I’m on it. You could… Okay, Virtual safety Car ending, Virtual Safety Car ending, you can overtake.
NorrisBullshit, this.
JosephI agree mate, it is bullshit. Leclerc behind 1.4.

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Perez’s radio messages during VSC period

PerezDoesn’t feel… doesn’t feel great.
BirdOkay copy you’ve got Max on the main straight. Max at seven seconds. Max at five. Three. Two. One. Coming through. Okay you’ve got Norris at five.
BirdSo Norris at one and a half seconds. So bring it back.
BirdSo double yellows here.
BirdVSC ending. So Norris just behind.
PerezI just don’t have any grip.

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2023 Japanese Grand Prix

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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...

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35 comments on “Norris accuses Perez of costing him “10 seconds” during VSC period”

  1. Understandable that he’s sensitive to this, given his penalty in Canada also labelled his driving there under similiar conditions ‘unsportsmanlike’.

    The better play was probably to overtake him and argue about it afterwards. Seems like something Ross Brawn would have told Schumacher.

    1. Arguing after seems a good idea, although perhaps McLaren doesn’t have the could have Red Bull?

      1. Wouldn’t be much to argue since it seems max passed Perez himself according to the radio.

        1. Verstappen passed Perez before the VSC period.

    2. That play would likely have got him an in-race penalty before any arguing could have been done, given the quality of stewarding on display here.

  2. As if Norris was ever going to beat Verstappen….
    And Norris’ own team made sure his team-mate wasn’t a threat either.

    1. Norris agrees with you – this is about Perez getting no penalty for something Norris was penalised for earlier in the year.

      1. Sort of… Perez had a genuine reason to go slow – Norris didn’t. He was just doing it for competitive gain.

        1. However, Perez doesn’t make it remotely clear he had a problem. As mentioned, drivers with issues would normally do so by track positioning etc.

          Perez’ actions weren’t the same as Norris’, but there is a similarity. Perez surely knew he was holding up Norris, and knew that, with a car problem causing him to go slow, he should be making that clear so other drivers knew they could pass him. Or at least he should have. Purposely or through ignorance, he was obstructing Norris.

      2. And it was also Norris feeling uncomfortable with the gap behind to Leclerc getting significantly eaten into IMO.

  3. Ministry of defence…. just laughable…. ministry of ill conceived divebombing….

    1. @transmix The best form of defence is attack, unless you’re doing it from the next postcode.

  4. Could this cause another investigation and penalty points?

    1. Obviously not because it’s RedBull. They play by a different rule book.

      1. Perez had a broken front right suspension, he couldn’t go faster. You are allowed to pass a damaged and slow car under VSC. That McLaren did not do that is their fault, not RB’s.

        1. Marcel, but the entire problem was that it was not obvious to McLaren at the time that there was damage to Perez’s car, and thus not clear to them that passing would be legal.

          Furthermore, there is the counter point that, if the car was that heavily damaged, should Perez have been continuing round on track anyway?

        2. As anon said, it was far from clear that Perez had a problem. It is normal practice for a driver to show this by his positioning on track, which Perez didn’t do. I strongly suspect this was intentional, though it’s possible he was just being as unaware as he had been for the rest of the race.

    2. @madmax In theory, yes, in practise, no (because McLaren aren’t likely to put in a protest for something unlikely to affect their result either this race or next).

      1. (and it costs a team $2000 to lodge a protest if Race Control/the FIA doesn’t do it for them).

  5. That radio between Bird and Perez show it is on purpose. Perez should get a penalty for this.

    1. Yep, looks like the usual dirty red bull behaviour. Like when they sent out the already retired Perez again to negate a well deserved penalty. Or like when their B-team sends out a damaged car only to cause a safety car.

    2. How does the radio show that it is on purpose? Bird only mentions the distance first to Verstappen and then to Norris.

      1. @exeviolthor when you know you know.

      2. Drivers with obvious problems have, in the past, made it clear. Either by sticking their hand up (probably hard to see in these modern cars) or by being deliberately and obviously off line, perhaps even slowing down a tad. Pérez obfuscating the issue when he knew that he was going to come in (‘So bring it back.’) is indeed quite dodgy.

        1. He was driving back slowly off line. Norris actually complained that Perez was going too slowly. We cannot blame Periz just because he happened to have the problem during the VSC period.
          In any case I cannot know if he did it on purpose, but this is not something that can be seen in the radio communication with his engineer.

  6. Lol, what a race for Checo.

  7. I only saw a brief flash of this in the highlights and couldn’t understand how Norris ended up so far back from Verstappen. As with later indivdent of serving the time penalty in a previously-retired car, this feels so wrong. When the VSC was introduced, we were told that the objective was to neutralize the race. This was not neutralizing the race.

  8. Well Norris is making it bigger than it really is.
    Start lap 14 Norris is 5.1 seconds behind, start of lap 15 with VSC gone it is 9.1 second.

    So he lost time, no question but it was just 4 seconds nothing more.

    1. You just forgot there was people racing behind him too. He was well clear of Leclerc before the VSC and Leclerc was on the verge of using DRS after it, because of Perez.

      “Just 4 seconds, nothing more”.

    2. Obviously you cant see clearly!

      Formula 1 is a precision sport in wich actions ate based och realtime data
      The more precise the data the more you know what is possible. jimmei callin 4 seconds just 4 seconds makes me think Jimi should stick monstertrucks.

  9. PER came back out again to try for fastest lap if VER didn’t get it done after his last pit stop. PER’s car had been fixed by then as it would be illegal to send a broken car back on the track. VER took the fastest lap so PER just went around once and back in. That is why PER sat in that car forever waiting to go out. They were waiting for VER’s final pit stop and attempt at a fastest lap. No other reason to have PER sit in that car for that long if all they wanted to do was make a lap and serve a penalty.

    1. @jimfromus Not correct.

      Perez went back out in order to serve the 5 second penalty he’d been given for the contact with Magnussen as if he hadn’t served it Red Bull thought it would be converted to a 3 place grid drop in Qatar.

      Perez went out and did one lap and pitted to serve the 5 second penalty and then went out and did one more lap before pitting to retire the car.

    2. What are you talking about? For the fastest lap point you need to be in the top 10. Get your rules straight before they obfuscate your opinions.

  10. Them sending Sergio out to get fastest lap wouldn’t have made any sense as they wouldn’t have got the points for it as he was outside the top 10.

    And there was nothing for them to gain in stopping anyone else from getting it.

    And finally given the pace advantage Max had over everyone else all weekend there was no way anyone else was going to end up with it anyway.

    1. @roger-ayles It would have made sense had Norris continued to hold the fastest lap, since a non-finisher having fastest lap denies that point to everyone. However, Verstappen got it, which meant all the running we saw after the first trip to the garage was for ostentatious penalty aversion.

Comments are closed.