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Norris handed three-place grid drop for red flag offence in qualifying

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Lando Norris has been handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix after the stewards in Baku concluded that he’d continued on track under red flag conditions, rather than returning to the pits. The decision drops Norris from P6 to P9 on the grid.

Norris was on Baku’s long pit straight in Q1 when red flags were deployed after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Turn 15. Given his position on track, approaching the tight pit entry at speed, he asked his team whether to come in or stay out. He was told to come in, but by that stage it was too late and he continued for another lap before returning.

An investigation was immediately announced, and after hearing from Norris and his team and reviewing video evidence, the stewards made their decision, dropping the Briton two fewer places than usual for such an offence given the limited time he had to make a decision.

READ MORE: Leclerc takes shock pole in dramatic Baku qualifying session as FIVE drivers crash out

“During the hearing the driver admitted that he lifted the throttle, braked and was committed to and able to enter the pitlane,” read a statement.

“At that moment he was not sure what to do and asked his team over the radio. Although the team ordered him immediately to enter the pits, it was too late and Norris crossed the finish line one more time.

“The Stewards assume that if a red flag is not respected during qualifying, a drop of 5 grid positions is appropriate. However, if you consider that the driver only had a very short time to react due to his position on the track, a drop of 3 grid positions is sufficient as an exception.”

Norris was also handed three penalty points on his licence, bringing his tally to eight in the last 12 months. Four more points in the same period would trigger an automatic one-race ban.

As a result of Norris' penalty, Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso all move up one place respectively on the grid. It capped a difficult day for McLaren, who saw Daniel Ricciardo exit qualifying in Q2 after a crash.

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