Norris critical of ‘unfair’ red flag rule that benefited Sainz

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Lando Norris described as ‘frustrating and unfair’ F1’s red flag rule that allowed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to recoup his original P3 starting position on the grid of the Monaco GP for the race’s restart.

Sainz's race took a turn for the worse after a contact with Oscar Piastri at Ste Devote that resulted in a puncture. As the field arrived at Casino Square, the Spaniard limped to a halt, seemingly out of the race.

However, a multi-car incident involving Sergio Perez and the Haas drivers that occurred almost simultaneously triggered a red flag, throwing a lifeline to Sainz.

According to F1's regulations, the restart order is determined by the "last point at which it was possible to determine the position of all cars" before the red flag.

In this case, most cars had crossed the timing sector before the red flag, save for Zhou Guanyu’s Sauber which was delayed due to the accident’s field of debris.

This technicality meant that the order used for the restart was based on positions at Safety Car Line 2, before Zhou crossed the timing sector.

The red flag ruling effectively allowed Sainz to reclaim his original P3 spot on the grid rather than being forced to take the restart from the back row.

A frustrated Norris had a dim view of the situation.

“I don't think it's the most fair thing, but I'm sure there's been moments in the past where maybe I've been fortunate from it and they could have fixed the car a little bit or something like that,” he said.

“When you think of it in just a blunt way, it is frustrating and unfair, that because someone makes a mistake and because of a certain amount of cars or whatever, whatever the rule is, didn't cross the line before the red flag and blah, blah, that he gets to undo that mistake and gets a free pit stop. It's unfair.”

Mercedes’ George Russell was on the same page as the McLaren driver regarding Sainz’s good fortune.

“It's not correct. I don't know what the ruling is exactly. But yeah, that was a bit strange,” he said.”

Contrary to Norris, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella wasn’t critical of the red flag rule. But the Italian did admit that Sainz had been lucky.

“In terms of the way in which the restart order was determined, I think what the FIA did was the best thing to do,” commented Stella.

“Also it is in agreement with the precedent, whereby you use the safety car line two when sector times are not available. I don't think using the mini sectors is a good way of doing that.

“Obviously, the whole point that saved Carlos was that Zhou had not crossed the sector time at the time the race was suspended. Lucky Carlos.

“I think he was lucky today and also with the lenient approach from the stewards, because the collision in corner one obviously created significant damage to Oscar's car - and this summed up yesterday's impeding [investigation].

“Like I say, lucky Carlos, this gained him a podium.

“We are happy for him but especially with yesterday impeding, we are still a little puzzled as to what the difference was between yesterday and Imola [when Piastri got a penalty for impeding].”

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