In Montreal, Norris was penalised for excessively reducing speed behind the safety car from the hairpin to the pitlane. This was an intentional strategy to create a gap for his team-mate, Oscar Piastri, allowing McLaren to carry out a double pitstop without Norris potentially losing a position to Charles Leclerc.
The five-second penalty imposed on Norris left him bemused, and even after two weeks, the British racer claims he is no clearer on the stewards’ reasoning.
“We’re still in talks with the FIA because they’ve established a new norm regarding what’s permissible or not,” Norris mentioned on Thursday.
He added, “There are clear instances where others did what they think I did, intentionally, without any penalties issued. Now, they’re insisting: ‘You need to maintain your delta throughout.’ So, they’re compelling you to speed up under safety car conditions, which seems irrational to me.”
It’s now come to light that the FIA has indeed re-introduced a precedent from the 2005 season to deter drivers from deliberately blocking others before a safety car pitstop, and this is what led to Norris’ penalty.
During the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella slowed down to make room for his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, who was leading the race. This held up Kimi Raikkonen from McLaren and Rubens Barrichello from Ferrari, enabling Renault to send Alonso back out before servicing Fisichella, who was given a drive-through penalty for this tactic.
Photo by: Gareth Bumstead
A similar incident involving Raikkonen in Belgium sparked this crackdown, and Charlie Whiting later cautioned drivers during the briefing not to hinder their rivals.
Since then, the most notable incident of deliberately slowing down opponents ahead of a double stack took place when Lewis Hamilton held up Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull during the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, which also resulted in a five-second penalty for Hamilton.
The FIA’s recent penalty on Norris is a clear message that they won’t tolerate drivers intentionally slowing down their rivals to gain an advantage during safety car pitstops, regardless of whether it occurs on the pitlane or on the in-lap.
As proof, the FIA cited Norris’ telemetry, which showed his speed was 50km/h slower than Piastri’s as they approached the pitlane.
However, more than the intentional slowing down, it was the deliberate intention of gaining an advantage that led the stewards to apply Article 12.2.1.l of the International Sporting Code and issue an “unsportsmanlike behaviour” penalty. They believed Norris had exceeded the limit of what was considered fair play.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Norris’ F1 penalty
Why was Norris penalised in the Montreal race?
Norris was penalised for excessively slowing down behind the safety car from the hairpin to the pitlane. He did this to create a gap for his team-mate, Oscar Piastri, allowing McLaren to carry out a double pitstop without Norris potentially losing a position to Charles Leclerc.
What was the penalty given to Norris?
Norris was given a five-second penalty for his actions, which were deemed as unsportsmanlike behaviour by the stewards.
Is there a precedent for such a penalty in F1?
Yes, there is a precedent. The FIA has re-introduced a precedent from the 2005 season to deter drivers from deliberately blocking others before a safety car pitstop. During the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella was given a drive-through penalty for a similar tactic.
What evidence did the FIA use to penalise Norris?
The FIA cited Norris’ telemetry, which showed his speed was 50km/h slower than Piastri’s as they approached the pitlane. More importantly, it was the deliberate intent of gaining an advantage that led to the penalty.
Is Norris the first driver to receive such a penalty?
No, he is not the first. A notable incident took place during the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton was given a five-second penalty for holding up Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull.