‘It wasn’t needed – but we’re cool’ – Norris and Gasly bury the hatchet over French GP scrap
‘Idiot’ was the word McLaren’s Lando Norris used to describe Pierre Gasly, after the pair came close to making contact at the French Grand Prix. But although Norris said that he stood by his belief that Gasly had overstepped the mark, the Briton added ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix that there was no beef between the two drivers.
Norris put in a storming drive in the French Grand Prix to P5. En route to that result, he attempted a pass on Lap 28 on the AlphaTauri of Gasly. But as Norris sent his car around the outside of the Frenchman at Le Beausset, Gasly cut across in front of Norris before running off track and taking Norris with him – with Norris ultimately able to pull off a more simple overtake a lap later, but not before he’d fumed to his McLaren team: “He forced me off. What’s this idiot doing? He even went off himself.”
And asked ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix whether he’d mellowed over the incident in the intervening couple of days, Norris replied: “Well, after I wasn't too unhappy. I finished ahead of him so I was quite happy actually.
“It's more just at the time – and it's the thing that many people don't realise when you're not actually driving the car – you feel like a lot of things cannot go your way and you lose an opportunity to overtake and you feel like someone or something has almost caused you to have damage; I almost took my front wing off and we almost made contact and things. It just wasn't needed, I feel, the level of aggression he had.
“I don't mind racing and having wheel to wheel and even a little bit of contact and whatever nowadays,” added Norris. “It's good fun and you grow up doing that in different categories. But when someone just pushes it a little bit too far, and you know, with how far he ended up off the track, he didn't need to go as far as he did.
“But I've got nothing against him, we had a bit of a joke after when we were doing our interviews and stuff. We're cool and I look forward to more racing with Pierre or whoever on track. Just not racing that puts you out of the race.”
Asked for his own view on the incident, meanwhile – and specifically on being called an ‘idiot’ by Norris – Gasly joked: “You guys seem to like that battle because you keep talking about it the whole time!
“The radio, in the heat of the moment there is a lot of things we say and like football players, every single word they say on the pitch between them are probably not as friendly. It is part of racing, hopefully we’ll have more battles this season and I enjoyed it. There was no harm in the pass, and I would not mind another battle with them this weekend.
“I’m not sure why there is a big story around this battle,” added Gasly. “I think it was nice, hard racing. We always complain we don’t have any overtakes in Formula 1 so I think you guys should be pleased when there is and that’s about it.
“Maybe Lando didn’t like it, but at the end of the day it’s racing, we’re all paid to go fast and race and try to bring as many points for our teams, and that’s what I try to do every weekend.”
Norris and Gasly will now turn their attention to a pair of Red Bull Ring races, starting with this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix – with Norris in particular keen to “replicate” his results here from 12 months ago, when he took his first podium in the Austrian Grand Prix, followed up by a thrilling drive to fifth at the Styrian race.
“It's probably one of the tracks this year I look forward to most,” said Norris, “mainly because of what happened last season. Scoring my first podium and having a very fun second race as well here. I'm hoping we can try to replicate last season's results. It’s probably going to be very difficult, but we'll do our best.”