Norris: F1 penalties too weak to deter illicit overtakes

© XPB 

Lando Norris believes that nearly inconsequential penalties for overtaking a rival off circuit only encourage drivers to deliberately break the rules, as the gain can be greater than the sanction.

Norris was referring to the case involving his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri in Saturday’s sprint event in Austin, when the Aussie was overtaken by George Russell on the outside of COTA’s Turn 1, with the Mercedes driver exploiting the run-off area to gain the upper hand.

Russell, who did not give the position back, was hit a five-second time penalty by the stewards, the Briton only losing a position to Pierre Gasly and dropping from P7 to P8 in the final results.

Speaking after the race, Norris pointed out that such deliberate moves have been brought to the attention of the FIA in the past for the purpose of considering a harsher sanction for those that play the penalty game.

“The thing I find a bit silly about it, is that these things have been brought up so many times in the drivers' briefings,” explained the McLaren driver.

“It is a point we bring up every time and it's a point that George brought up himself in Barcelona, where, with the fact that you can commit to the outside line in Turn 1, and just kind of overdoing it, you can get past two cars and commit to just going off, like we saw people do in Russia, as well in T1 and T2.

“It's something you can easily prepare yourself for. And I'm pretty sure we came up with a conclusion that people are going to do it on purpose.

“We discussed this exact thing. And we discussed that you can easily do it. If you're quicker you could get past someone, and you're easily going to pull away five seconds. Like in Monaco, for example, if you cut the chicane.

“They [the FIA] came and said, ‘okay, we'll do it, so you have to give the position back’, but now they've set the precedent of not even having to do that.”

“So I think there's a bit of lack of consistency once again, which I am a bit surprised by. There was quite a clear guideline of what they were going to do when such a thing happened. But clearly not....”

Norris suggested that the rule should compel drivers to give back the position or risk a stronger time penalty.

“If it's your fault, give it back,” said Norris. “You took the risk of doing it, you've committed to doing it, you give it back yourself straightaway.

“Penalties just need to be more harsh in general. People are getting away with too many things.

Piastri agreed that Russell’s move and subsequent penalty might might encourage others in Sunday’s US Grand prix to do the same, especially if they are driving a significantly faster car.

“I feel like swapping the cars back around shouldn’t be that difficult in that set of circumstances,” Piastri said.

“If it’s only going to be five seconds for that, then, especially in a longer race, it’s going to be beneficial if we can clear quicker the slower cars.

“So maybe some people will have premeditated [it]. It definitely sets a bit of a precedent for the kind of penalty you’re going to get for doing that and if you’re in a quicker car then whoever you’re trying to overtake, it does give you an incentive.”

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