Norris: 'Unfair' penalty will make life 'a lot more difficult'

© XPB 

Lando Norris disputed the three-place grid drop he received from the Baku stewards after qualifying, calling the penalty "unfair" and insisting it will only make his race "a lot more difficult".

Norris was punished by the FIA stewards for failing to enter the pits at the earliest opportunity following a red flag triggered by Antonio Giovinazzi's crash in Q1.

The McLaren driver was aware of the flag as he approached the pit straight and radioed in to ask if he should come in. When told to box, he replied "I can't, I'm too late", and he continued for another lap.

After reviewing video evidence and talking with Norris and representatives of the team, the stewards confirmed a grid drop for Sunday, but showed leniency given the McLaren driver's lack of time to react, lowering the grid demotion from five to three spots.

But Norris still felt that the penalty was unwarranted and "unfair".

"In my opinion, I don't think I did anything wrong," said Norris. "It's a tough one, because going at the speeds we do we have to make such a quick decision, what's the best thing and safest thing to do? And I feel like what I did was exactly the safest thing to do.

"For all I know, the pitlane could have been blocked, and you're not allowed to enter the pitlane. And then it could have been a different story. 'Why did you enter the pitlane? You shouldn't have done it.'

"So it's a tough one. I didn't have time to talk to my my engineer and say, 'Should I abort, should I not?' I did everything I thought I should have done. But it sucks, because I guess in the end, there's a rule.

"Also sometimes there's some more leniency to certain situations, when the driver has still done the best thing that's possible to do in that situation.

"So a bit gutted because three places back is going to make our life a lot more difficult tomorrow. I don't feel like it's a fair decision. But it is what it is."

Norris said the stewards should change their approach to assessing a situation such as the one he endured on Saturday, especially as he "did not put anyone in harm's way".

"For certain situations, like I said, they should just think what it’s like to be in the driver’s seat for a second and what they have to react to, the speed they’re doing and the time you have to react to things and so on," he explained.

"I think, obviously, a reprimand or something is the right thing to do, to have a bit more understanding in some areas and be able to over-decide the actual ruling itself and have a bit of a rethink on what’s actually really fair for the driver or the team or whatever went wrong.

"I didn’t put anyone in harm’s way. If anything, I took the safer option out of boxing and not boxing and that makes it even worse. So I don’t deserve three points on my licence for this, I didn’t do anything dangerous.

"I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know and I was clueless or anything, there was nothing to do with that. I know what the rules are and so on. So it’s not like I have a lack of understanding or anything like that, but for some situations they should actually rethink what’s going on."

The extra penalty points mean that Norris has now collected eight over the last 12 months. If he were to receive four more during the timeframe then he would receive an automatic one-race ban.

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