Lando Norris believes Charles Leclerc should have made the most of Max Verstappen’s brief off-track excursion at the red flag restart in the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The race at Imola was red-flagged halfway through after an incident between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell resulted in debris littering the circuit on the run down to the first sequence of corners.

Once the track was cleared and the race got back underway, race control opted for a rolling start - akin to a Safety Car restart when the race leader dictates the pace of the field and decides when to go - rather than a standing start, which we saw after red flag periods in Mugello and Monza last year.

As Verstappen was warming up his tyres ahead of the restart, he briefly lost control of his car at the first Rivazza corner, running off the circuit for a short moment.

Leclerc decided to remain in second position, but Norris felt it was a missed opportunity for the Ferrari driver to take the lead at Imola because Verstappen was off the track. 

“I had a great view of it, it was quite funny actually,” Norris said. “I think Charles could have gone past in my opinion. At that stage, Max was out of control and going left, and Charles kind of just hit the brakes and slowed down and stopped, and at some point he has to go past Max because he was facing the barrier for a lot of the corner! 

“I don’t know, we have to maybe ask the guys in charge what the exact ruling is for going as off track. It’s all four wheels off the track and an example of yesterday, but at the same time Max was going very slow, so it’s like Charles could have driven past him at that point. I’m not sure. 

“If I was in P2 I think I would have gone for it because you have a chance of winning then, so it’s a risk worth it.”

Giving his side of the story, Leclerc explained: “I considered it at one point but at the same time I backed off. I think looking back at it, it was the right choice because he always had one wheel on the track. 

“I backed off and because he didn’t completely spin, obviously as you seen. I thought about it but it was too late as he was already back in front.”

 

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