until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Verstappen defends Norris amid risk of F1 race ban

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Lando Norris is briefly on 10 licence penalty points after the Austrian Grand Prix, and only two from a Formula 1 race ban. That will change before the next race but it’s a tally he believes he’s reached for “stupid” reasons and one that’s earned him the support of Max Verstappen.

Norris will lose two penalty points before the British Grand Prix event starts because it’s almost 12 months exactly since he earned the first two points of his current tally.

Jul 04 : Austrian Grand Prix review

That will give him more leeway after earning two points on Sunday for his incident with Sergio Perez in the Austrian Grand Prix, but even getting so close to a ban is surprising for a driver who hasn’t got anything close to a reputation for being dirty or careless.

And as he will not lose any more points until November, Norris will still have to complete a large chunk of the season knowing he is only four points from an automatic ban.

Lando Norris McLaren F1 Austrian GP

Norris is in this situation because of the following penalties:

> 2 points for overtaking under yellows in FP1 at last year’s Styrian GP
> 3 points for not slowing for yellows in qualifying in Turkey last year
> 3 points for not pitting under the red flag in qualifying at this year’s Azerbaijan GP
> 2 points for forcing Perez off in the Austrian GP

“Well, just in case, Zak’s ready to jump in if something happens again,” Norris joked when asked by The Race about his tally for those incidents listed above.

“There should be decisions when someone’s done something dangerous and put someone in harm’s way and done something that they clearly shouldn’t have done – and then you have racing, when people have to use common sense.

“Like the incident in Baku with the red flag and not boxing when I should have done, I didn’t put anyone in harm’s way, in fact it was the opposite, and I did everything safely.

“Why should I deserve penalty points for that? Why should I deserve penalty points today for someone going into the gravel?

Sergio Perez Red Bull Austrian GP gravel after fighting Lando Norris

“Nothing I’ve done is dangerous. Maybe in some cases you deserve an on-track penalty because you done something bad in terms of racing, and you just made a mistake.

“But then you have things that people do every now and then, which is purely dangerous.

“If you do generally overtake in a yellow flag and do something that will put people in danger, then I understand penalty points for a driver and if that adds up you get a race ban.

“But for little things like this is just stupid in my opinion, it’s not what Formula 1 should be.

“I would expect and hope that other people would back me up on this kind of opinion.”

Lando Norris Max Verstappen Valtteri Bottas F1 Austrian GP

Sat alongside Norris in the post-race press conference, race winner Verstappen – team-mate to the driver Norris was judged to have forced off-track in the race – said unprompted: “I do [back you up].

“How many did you get, two? So, if you would have six of these incidents, like today, if you get that six times I don’t think you deserve a ban. It’s just not correct.

“I’ve been there myself, I’ve been at nine or 10 points myself. It’s how it goes.

“But I don’t think with the things you got the penalty points for, let’s say you would get to 12, you don’t deserve a ban for that.

“We should look into that [system].”

Norris isn’t the only driver with a high licence points tally after Austria. Ironically the driver he was judged to have wronged, Perez, is now on eight points because he had a pair of incidents with Charles Leclerc that doubled his licence tally in one afternoon.

One penalty was for slightly clumsily running into Leclerc and forcing him off at Turn 4, the other was after Leclerc tried to pass him around the outside into the fast Turn 6 left-hander and ended up skating through the gravel.

It means Perez will start the next event as close to a race ban as Norris, although one of his points will expire in mid-August and one more in mid-September, giving him a bit more leeway.

The superlicence penalty points system was adopted in 2014 as a means to track and, if necessary, ban repeat offenders for an accumulation of offences over a 12-month period.

The idea was mooted after Romain Grosjean’s ban for triggering the start crash at Spa in 2012.

Romain Grosjean Spa 2012 Belgian Grand Prix crash

No driver has actually been banned since the system was enforced, although several have come close.

Norris’s points tally has now revived long-held criticism of the system, which many drivers have argued is flawed and wrongly punishes drivers for tedious offences.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks