Why wasn’t Lando Norris penalised for jump start at F1 Saudi Arabian GP?

Why did Lando Norris escape punishment for jumping the start of the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix?

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Race
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL38. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2,…

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix F1 stewards have explained why Lando Norris escaped punishment for jumping the start.

Onboard footage from Norris’ car clearly showed the Briton jolting forward in his grid spot, and quickly stopping again, before the lights went out to signal the start of the race.

The incident was immediately reported over team radio by Mercedes driver George Russell, who started alongside his fellow countryman in seventh.

It was investigated by the stewards, who ultimately cleared Norris because the FIA’s standardised data transponder had not been set off.

"The stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video and determined that the video appeared to show that car 4 moved before the start signal was given," the stewards said.

"However, the FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted on the car did not indicate a jump start.

"Article 48.1 a) of the Formula One Sporting Regulations states clearly that the judgment of whether or not there was a jump start is to be made in accordance with the transponder, which did not show a jump start. In the circumstances, we took no further action.”

Norris admitted he “didn’t know what happened” because it “happened so quickly”.

"I just went a little bit and then tried stopping again, and then went again. But overall, I lost. I didn't gain anything from it,” he told Sky.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Race
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi…

Sky F1 pundit Anthony Davidson analysed the incident after the race and revealed that McLaren would have successfully overturned any penalty via appeal had punishment been handed out.

“There will probably be lots of questions regarding this potential jump start from Lando Norris. It was something that we all saw and something that he definitely felt,” Davidson explained.

“The lights are on, the car clearly moves, he stops and then he gets going again. So why didn’t he get a penalty?

“Well, on the circuit, on each grid box there is a sensor. Now it appears that the sensor wasn’t working. It didn’t detect the car moving. It’s an automated system and it didn’t detect that the car had moved.

“So, the stewards, although they can see that it is a potential jump start, or was a jump start, the human eye can detect it, the sensor didn’t actually pick it up. So that’s the first bit of luck.

“Second, there’s a bit of a loophole in the regulation. If they were given a penalty, it turns out that if the team appealed it, they would win the appeal because the sensor can’t detect the car moving.

“So that’s why, Lando Norris, we believe didn’t get a penalty for this actual jump start. Computer said no.”

It is not the first time a driver has been let off for a jump start.

Valtteri Bottas escaped a penalty for a jump start at the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel was also cleared in Japan a year earlier. 

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