Lando Norris says he had conceded Turn 6 to Sergio Perez during their battle in the Abu Dhabi GP, and was therefore baffled that the Red Bull driver still managed to crash into him at the corner.
Norris and Perez were fighting for fourth in the closing stages of the race when the Mexican lunged down the inside of the McLaren at Turn 6 on lap 47.
Norris says he was resigned to let Perez pass which is why he veered wide, leaving his rival ample space to complete his maneuver. But on the exit of the corner the Red Bull went wide and collided with the McLaren, which forced Norris cut the corner through the run-off area.
Over the radio, Perez argued that he was ahead and that Norris had driven into him. The Briton agreed with the first part of his rival’s comment.
“Oh, he was ahead,” Norris said after F1’s season finale. “I was trying to let him past. I was on the right, I tried to let him past. I was like four car lengths away from the apex.
“I literally tried to let him past and somehow he still crashed into me, so impressive.”
Neither driver suffered damage in the contact and Perez repeated the move on the following lap, this time with success. However, he was hit with a five-second penalty for his previous action.
Perez completed his race second on the road before his time penalty demoted him to fourth, while Norris crossed the checkered flag in fifth position, 7 seconds ahead of his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri.
Unfortunately, Norris missed out on finishing fourth in the Drivers’ championship, with both Fernando Alonso and Charles concluding their campaign P4 and P5, but on equal points while Norris was just one point behind the duo.
“Would I have loved to be fourth? Yes,” the McLaren charger admitted.
“But Charles jumped me. So, there was nothing I could do about that. He had a very good weekend.
“If you're not first you're last, so it doesn't bother me too much. It's just a good-to-know thing, but it doesn't change anything, it doesn't change my mentality in any way.
“So, respect to those guys ahead me and everyone, but my main thing has to do with the championship for the team, which is the priority in the end, and otherwise, it's first or nothing for me.”
In the Constructors’ Championship, McLaren’s remarkable progress since last July allowed it reel in and overhaul both Alpine and Aston Martin, the Woking-based seizing fourth in the standings behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.