The McLaren driver caught a slow-moving Perez, who had already pitted twice after picking up damage in separate incidents with Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen, under a VSC which had been deployed so debris could be cleared from the track. 

It led to a confusing moment for Norris, who had been running around five seconds behind Max Verstappen’s leading Red Bull in the early stages of Sunday’s race at Suzuka. 

“Does Perez have a problem? Because he’s going very, very slowly,” Norris asked over team radio as he caught a dawdling Perez in the first sector. 

“Ah he’s had multiple problems and another stop,” Norris’ race engineer Will Joseph responded. 

“Yes but I need to know if I can pass him,” Norris continued. “I’m five seconds down. He’s just holding me up now. He must have a problem.”

To which, Joseph replied: “Or he’s doing it on purpose.”

Norris, who went on to claim second place behind Verstappen, said: “Yeah but he can’t be going this slowly.” 

After the race, Norris was still baffled by the incident. 

“I have no idea,” said the Briton. “I don’t know what… he must have had a problem, right? 

“But the thing is you can’t overtake under the VSC unless it’s obvious the guy has a problem and I don’t know what was 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. He was going so slowly and then when we get the flashing dash for the VSC ending, he went into first gear and then I was on the outside of him because he was going so slowly, and then he almost crashed into me.

“So I honestly have no idea. I was shouting in my helmet. I was swearing quite a bit, but just got… I was so confused, I didn’t know what I could do.

“I’m losing time to Max [Verstappen]. The Ferrari guys were, I think, 1.4 seconds behind me after being I think 12s or 13s, so I lost 10 seconds. And I didn’t know what I could do at the time.”