Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Letting Russell lead at turn one was “correct decision” to avoid crash – Norris

Formula 1

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Lando Norris blamed his poor start to the Spanish Grand Prix for losing victory in the race to Max Verstappen.

However the McLaren driver said he made the right call to back down as they approached turn one to avoid a multi-car crash.

Norris, Verstappen and George Russell ran side-by-side into the first corner. Russell took the lead as pole-winner Norris backed off and fell to third behind Verstappen.

Although Norris said losing the lead to Verstappen at the start ultimately cost him the win, he felt he had no choice but to cede the corner once Russell drew alongside them both.

“My initial launch, I think, was better than Max. The second phase, the drive out, was not as good. I don’t know anything more than that, apart from Max got alongside me.

“If George wasn’t there, I think I still could have kept first around turn one. But George had a run on both of us, so even if my start was one or two metres better – which I think was all I probably could have done – just the long run down to turn one, the slipstream [for] the Mercedes, on both Max and myself, was more than anything that I could have done.

“I almost think George would have led no matter what, even if my start was two metres better. In some ways, that’s what happens in Barcelona. George got a good start and I couldn’t do anything about that.”

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The McLaren driver believes all three would have crashed had he not backed off. “I had to take third in turn two because if I braked two metres later, I think I would have taken everyone out with me. I made the correct decision of backing out and letting George have it.”

Norris added he will “sit down with my engineers and talk” about their approach to the corner later.

Verstappen said the three drivers handled the situation well. “I think the first launch was quite okay, and then I got a little bit alongside [Norris]. I had to go a little bit on the grass.

“But then I think George had a double slipstream and had a good run around the outside, which he managed really well. And I think the three of us managed everything really well into turn one.”

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Keith Collantine
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8 comments on “Letting Russell lead at turn one was “correct decision” to avoid crash – Norris”

  1. It definitely made George opening the door a hoot. lolz. Verstappen didn’t even have to ask.

  2. The start by Norris was not so bad. He lost his position because he was to much obsessed with Max and forgot the other contestants..
    When he steered in to max to block his path the decision was made and Russell accepted the gift.

  3. here is a odd thought: Russel first turn move ruined his race.
    Had him – voluntarily or not – kept 3rd place, this could have been his finishing position.
    His pace while in 2nd place put him on a worst tyre strategy

    1. Yep. He tried to hang with the Max and Lando thinking he could maybe win and ruined his strategy. I think he pitted first of the leading 6, along with Sainz who also had a bad race.

  4. An Sionnach
    25th June 2024, 4:26

    Yes, Norris seemed to react quicker than Max off the line. As has happened before, Max then seemed to get better acceleration up through the gears. Is this an advantage his car has, or, is it his touch? I suspect it’s the latter, as there’s much a driver can do here to get up to speed while avoiding wheelspin. Not that the car is not important at all.

    I don’t know how much analysis is done of this sort of thing. Perhaps the team can try and get some good footage of Max and listen to what he’s doing, comparing it to Norris? This shouldn’t be allowed to happen again and again.

    1. It’s why they do so many practice starts to avoiding wheelspin. But Max did those starts on used soft which he used during the start of the race while Lando used new softs (while praticing on used) that could be the diffirence in how a car accelerate from stand still. The teams can used the telematri of ever driver to see gearshift, brakes and gaspedal. Preventing wheelspin is how good your start will be.

      1. Indeed, the used softs were an advantage for Max here for the start. Disadvantage in later drop off was neutralized mostly due to George’s move, with Lando needing to spend more of his tires to pass him.

  5. Should have focused on his race instead of pushing Verstappen onto the grass. Ditto error of Hamilton at Hungary 2023.

    They see Max and they let him get in their heads too easily.

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