Norris displeased with three-place grid drop

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Azerbaijan, Baku Street Circuitaz

McLaren driver Lando Norris has been handed a three-place grid drop penalty for today’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix for a red flag incident. The Briton thinks he took “the safest possible action.”

Norris found himself on the long start-finish straight when the session was red-flagged after Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Turn 15. The Briton asked his race engineer whether to come in or stay out for another lap.

Although he got the answer to head back into the pit, Norris was unable to do so as it was too late and he continued for another lap before retuning to the McLaren garage.

The FIA launched an investigation after the incident and reviewed the video evidence. After hearing from Norris and McLaren, the race stewards handed the Briton a three-place grid drop penalty which will see Norris start from P9 instead of P6.

“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.”

Reflecting on his qualifying session, Norris said: “Chaotic quali, as I’m sure it was for everyone. Finishing P6 on track was ok on a used set of tyres. In the end, we definitely had the potential to do more. I was already up on my final lap on the new tyre before the red flag came out.

“I’m disappointed to be starting P9 after being given a penalty. It’s a tough one to take as I felt I took the safest possible action. That will make things more difficult tomorrow, but we can still fight for good points given the overtaking opportunities in Baku, so let’s see what we can do,” the Bristol-born concluded.