Following a controversial Sprint race at the Circuit of the Americas, McLaren driver Lando Norris has publicly called for harsher penalties in Formula One.
Norris claims that the FIA’s lenient approach to rule-breaking, particularly when it comes to off-track overtaking, encourages drivers to deliberately break the rules in order to gain position on the track.
The 23-year-old British driver argues that the current system can encourage drivers to strategically accept a five-second penalty for overtaking a slower rival, rather than lose valuable time by staying behind. According to Norris, this issue has been raised repeatedly during driver briefings, but it appears that the FIA has yet to fully grasp the gravity of the situation.
In particular, both Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell overtook cars whilst off the circuit.
A case in point: Piastri v Russell
Norris’ concerns follow an incident involving his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri and Mercedes’ George Russell during the recent Austin sprint race. Piastri lost a position to Russell in a move the Australian described as “blatant”, with Russell appearing to deliberately run him off the track and opting for a penalty instead.
“What I find a bit silly is that these issues have been discussed extensively in the drivers’ briefings,” said Norris. He specifically mentioned that George Russell had raised the same issue at Barcelona earlier in the season.
“We discussed that if you’re quicker you can get past someone and easily gain more than five seconds, especially at tracks like Monaco where you can cut the chicane,” he explained. Norris criticised the FIA for inconsistency, pointing out that previous discussions had led to an agreement that drivers would have to give back any position gained through an illegal move.
This, he claims, has not been implemented.
Norris’ solution: A call for tougher penalties
Norris concluded by suggesting that the solution is either to require drivers to give up any positions they have gained illegally immediately, or to significantly increase the time penalty.
“If it’s your fault, give it back,” stressed Norris. “You’ve taken the risk, you’ve committed to it, so fix it immediately.”
He also called for harsher penalties across the board, not just for overtaking off the track.
“I just think the penalties in general need to be harsher,” said Norris. “When you have light penalties like losing three places for blocking in qualifying, it doesn’t act as a strong deterrent.”
His comments echo a growing sentiment within the F1 community, pointing to the need for more consistent and stringent enforcement of the rules to maintain the integrity of the sport. It remains to be seen how the FIA will respond to this growing criticism.
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