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Norris: FIA risks “boring” F1 races if track limits stance isn’t changed

Lando Norris has warned Formula 1 chiefs that they risk making racing “boring” if drivers continue to be punished for running wide after making mistakes in the fight for position.
Almost lost amid the frenzy surrounding Norris’s collision with Max Verstappen in Austria last weekend was the fact that the McLaren driver had picked up a five-second penalty for running wide after a botched pass on his Red Bull rival a few laps before.

Having already been pinged for three track limits breaches earlier in the race, Norris locking up and taking to the run-off at Turn 3 was deemed enough to earn him a five-second penalty.

It’s a situation where Norris thinks some common sense needs to be applied if drivers are not going to be deterred from attempting overtakes.

“It’s pretty silly, to be honest,” said Norris about the track limits situation. “I’ve tried to do an overtake, I’ve locked up, I’ve gone off the track just, and tried then to avoid the sausage kerb.

“Then immediately I gave the position back to Max, so I probably lost a second and a half in doing that. It’s clearly not a penalty. I’ve lost out in doing such a thing.

“These sorts of things will avoid people racing. If you don’t want us to race and don’t want me to try and overtake and have a boring race, then you can have these rules.”

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

With the track limits issue likely to be discussed in the various team managers and drivers’ meetings at Silverstone this weekend, Norris hoped that there was enough consensus for the rules to be changed.

“I’m sure it’s something that has already been brought up, because there’s a difference between going off track and gaining an advantage and going off because you’ve made a silly mistake and you’ve not judged something perfectly.

“The fact you get punished for that, especially in a racing situation, especially when I have given it up even more time, it just doesn’t make sense. So, it’s something I hope they fix quickly.”

Norris has found some allies in the opinion that getting a track limits penalty for making a mistake while battling for position is not right.

RB’s Yuki Tsunoda said he was picked up for a similar infringement at the Spanish GP, which left him hugely annoyed at the time.

The Japanese said: “In Barcelona, I think I went wide at Turn 1 and because I was battling with another car and forced wide. Obviously, I took the right [escape] road to rejoin to the track next to the bollard and I followed the rules, but they took it as a track limits [penalty].

“I mean, I didn’t gain anything. Obviously, I let the car pass and in the end, I rejoined the car behind. I had two occasions [already and] they counted that as track limits.

“I can’t understand why we use that as a track limits. It’s just ridiculous, that rule.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, battle for the lead

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, battle for the lead

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Policing clarification

The Norris penalty in Austria was not the only track limits controversy, with his team-mate Oscar Piastri still remaining unhappy about certain aspects of him losing his best lap from qualifying after being deemed to have run wide at Turn 6.

While there are no grounds to go over that specific incident any more with the FIA, the Australian thinks there are issues that need addressing for the future.

“I think for me there’s two points,” he said. “I think the first one is if there is space for a car to go off, that we monitor it in a fair way.

“The evidence that led to my lap being deleted was from a helicopter that was only on me for that lap, which is a bit painful when there are other people that potentially also went off that didn’t have a helicopter on them. So, I think it’s a very fine line.

“Then there are some discussions we need to have [about solutions], but the easiest way to get rid of that is make the white line 20cm wider and not have to worry about it at all.”

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