‘He put himself in the gravel’ – Norris hits out at Perez penalty after having to settle for P3
Lando Norris’s purple patch at the Red Bull Ring continued on Sunday, with the McLaren driver claiming a third podium position of the year with third place behind Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas in the Austrian Grand Prix. But the Briton’s happiness was tempered by the penalty he received for an early tangle with Sergio Perez, which earnt Norris a five-second penalty and lost him crucial track position to Bottas…
Norris made a great getaway to hold P2 at the start, but found himself under heavy pressure from Perez’s Red Bull after the Safety Car re-start on Lap 4.
Perez attacked the McLaren driver around the outside at Turn 4, but Norris held his ground and the Red Bull ended up running through the gravel and dropping to P10. A stewards' investigation subsequently found Norris guilty of running Perez off the road – something he vehemently disagreed with when he stepped out of the car.
“It was a lot of fun, you know, it was a good race, it was exciting, but I’m disappointed because we should have been second place,” Norris said.
“I thought that Lap 1 was just racing really – he tried to go round the outside which is a bit stupid and he ran off the track himself, I didn’t even push him. So I don’t know. I’m frustrated but also happy with P3.”
Norris served his time penalty at his only tyre stop, enabling Bottas, who stopped at the same time, to overtake him – a positional advantage he held to the flag. Speaking in the press conference, Norris expanded on why he thought he’d been treated harshly by the stewards.
"From my point of view, if I want to compare it to anything it’s Max versus Lewis [Hamilton] at Imola," said Norris. “Did he get a penalty for that? No. Same thing as that. It was a re-start and Sergio knows there’s gravel on the exit of that corner. It’s downhill, easy to run wide, and that’s just what happens.
"You watch Formula 2 or Formula 3 or any category, people who try to go around the outside there and don’t commit to it end up in the gravel. That’s just the way that corner runs.
"He took the risk and not me. He didn’t commit to the overtake the way he should have done. He put himself in the gravel. So I don’t feel like it’s my mistake – but I don’t make the penalties, so…”
Despite his frustration, Norris pronounced himself satisfied with the progress McLaren had made, in a race where he passed Lewis Hamilton to seal P3.
“Relatively we made a step forward form last weekend – I was fourth in quali and two and half tenths off pole. Now we’re second and half a tenth off pole,” he reasoned.
“So we did make a step forward and I think the car was better and nicer to drive in both qualifying and the longevity of the race.
“I think conditions also helped and our approach to strategy and everything was a bit different this weekend compared to the last one after doing our homework and learning from a few things to improve on. So a number of things, but the car being slightly better was the main one.”
With third place – the fourth podium of his career – Norris held on to fourth place in the drivers’ standings, and is now just three points behind – you guessed it – Perez for third.