Norris left ‘swearing quite a bit’ after Perez delay

Lando Norris was left 'swearing in his helmet' as he lost time behind Sergio Perez in Japan. Image: XPB Images

Lando Norris was left ‘swearing in his helmet’ as he lost time behind Sergio Perez in Japan. Image: XPB Images

Lando Norris admitted he was “swearing quite a bit,” when he was delayed by Sergio Perez during the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Virtual Safety Car was called when Perez and Kevin Magnussen came together on Lap 12, pitching the latter into a spin and leaving the former in need of a new front wing.

Perez was already running down the order after being embroiled in a stoush with Lewis Hamilton on the run to the opening corner, which necessitated an opening lap stop for a new nose.

Under the resulting Virtual Safety Car, Norris encountered the ambling Red Bull at the Spoon curve, but rules initially prohibited him from passing.

“That was a little tricky,” conceded team boss Andrea Stella.

“It was tricky because Lando didn’t know whether Sergio was having a problem, in which case you can overtake, or he was just going slow on the Virtual Safety Car, in which [case] he would have been like ‘I don’t want to overtake and then have a penalty’.

“So we start to ask, we asked Race Control, we received the okay, but actually we received the okay once we had lost some time already, which was a bit of a shame.”

On that lap, Norris recorded a 2:03.597s, while race leader Max Verstappen logged a 1:59.754s – a four-second deficit.

“He must have had a problem, right” suggested Norris after the race.

“But the thing is, you can’t overtake under VSC, unless obviously the guy has a problem.

“I don’t know if he had a problem or whether he was just backing me up, I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him.

“He was going so slow, and then when we get the flashing dash for VSC ending, he like went into first gear.

“I was shouting in my helmet, swearing quite a bit,” Norris added.

“I just got so confused. I didn’t know what I could do.”

The delay ultimately had no impact on Norris’ race as he ran second at the time, finishing there 19 seconds behind Verstappen.

“It doesn’t affect the final result but it is a bit inconvenient,” Stella noted.

“It’s tricky. It’s tricky because, as a driver, you can only judge based on the reference time and Lando could see that he was losing quite a lot of time compared to the reference time.

“But it’s always a little discretional whether, like if the car had didn’t have a problem, you would have overtaken – maybe the driver that is holding could take an unsportsmanlike penalty, but you could also be summoned because you overtook.

“We played very cautiously like, let’s wait, let’s ask, but this takes time and we lost some time.”

Perez ultimately retired from the race, though made a brief return in order to clear an in-race penalty so it did not carry over to the Qatar Grand Prix as a grid drop.

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