Sergio had a day to forget at the 2023 F1 Japanese Grand Prix. He collided with Hamilton just after lights out causing his RB19 to require a new front wing. The Mexican then crashed into Kevin Magnussen as he came through the field -again damaging his car and requiring a second front wing.
Checo was also hit with a five second time penalty for a safety car infringement which saw him overtake on his way into th exit lane which is in breach of the regulations.
VSC problems for Norris
However, it appears after his second collision Perez’s stricken RB19 caused Lando Norris a headache.
The McLaren driver was behind Perez on track even though the Red Bull driver was a lap down when debris from Chico’s collision with the Haas driver required race control to deploy the VSC.
Cars must not overtake under the VSC and usually they will drive as quickly as allowed but at a reduced speed of around 40%.
Checo however was struggling with his car as Norris approached at a much higher speed and was unsure whether he was allowed to overtake the extremely slow Red Bull ahead.
Perez accused of foul play
A frustrated exchange occurred between Norris and his engineer where the prospect of Perez driving slowly to assist Verstappen was suggested.
As the pair approached the spoon corner Norris and peered almost collided and then the McLaren driver decided he could pass the stricken RB19.
In post race media interviews Norris revealed he had “no idea” why Perez had been driving much slower than the speed required under the VSC.
McLaren/Red Bull almost collided
“He must have had a problem, right? But the thing is you can’t overtake under VSC unless it’s obvious that guy has a problem.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t know if he had a problem, whether he was just backing me up. I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him.”
Such were Sergio’s woes as the safety car was ending he slowed even further. “He was going so slow and then when we you the flashing dash for ‘VSC ending’, he like went into first gear.
“I was on the outside of him because he was going so slow, and then he almost crashed into me,” revealed Lando.
Perez should have done better
All the time Norris was losing time to Verstappen ahead while Leclerc was closing from behind.
“I was shouting in my helmet, I was swearing quite a bit. I just got so confused. I didn’t know what I could do.
“I’m losing time to Max, the Ferrari guys were, I think, 1.4 seconds behind me after being, I think 12 or 13 [behind]. So I lost 10 seconds and it’s just I didn’t know what I could do at the time.”
Of course there is an accepted code in motorsport that when a driver is stricken he raises his hand to indicate this to fellow competitors.
Piastri benefits from VSC
“If he has a problem, he should pull over and make it obvious that he has a problem,” noted Norris. “He didn’t, and therefore I couldn’t take the risk of passing under a VSC.”
A stroke of fortune saw McLaren driver Oscar Piastri pit just as the VSC was deployed. This together with Perez holding up Norris meant after Lando pitted for the first time he was now behind his Australian team mate.
But Norris superior driving saw him retake the position from Piastri and further the British driver didn’t believe Peresz actions had cost him a shot at the win.
Clarification with FIA required
“I don’t think it would have changed the world, just made me stressed for a little bit more. But it would have been, maybe just a bit better to put Max under a little bit of pressure at least after that,” said Lando.
“I don’t think we would have been quite as far behind.
So, a frustrating time. Maybe I’ll ask next time what you’re allowed to do but I think I did the right thing, so all okay.”
McLaren have now made up almost 90 points on Aston Martin in the past eight races in now require just 49 more to draw level with the Silverstone based F1 team.
Piastri first F1 podium
Oscar Piastri scored his first podium in Formula One while his senior team mate ratchet up number 10. The young Australian was dumbstruck following the race but described it as a “pretty special” moment for him
“It feels pretty special, definitely,” he said. “I’ll remember it for a very, very long time.
“I can’t thank the team enough for giving me this opportunity. There’s not many people in the world who get this opportunity in their whole life, and I’ve managed to have it in my first season. So thank you very much to the team. It wasn’t my best race ever, but it was enough to get a trophy in the end. So super happy.”
Mercedes overtake vital
To secure his podium Piastri had to overtake the one stopping Mercedes of George Russell who looked to make the move as difficult as possible.
“The move on George, I knew I had to try and get past, otherwise I was going to get stuck for a while,” Piastri explained. “So that one was a bit close, but our pace after that was very strong.
“I think in the second half of the race I got more into a groove, more into a rhythm and the pace was a bit better. So very, very happy and excited to try and get some more.”
The move on Russell was brave as he gutted it out around the outside into turn one requiring the Mercedes driver to submit.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 24, 2023
MORE F1 NEWS: Teams demand Verstappen ‘investigated’
The Formula One paddock is abuzz with controversy as several teams join forces to demand answers from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) over recent decisions made at the Singapore Grand Prix. This collective discontent revolves around the treatment of Max Verstappen, with some suggesting that the reigning world champion may have escaped legitimate penalties.
The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka is just around the corner, but the storm clouds of uncertainty and discontent from the previous race in Singapore are looming large. Paddock chatter is rife with speculation as… READ MORE ON THIS STORY