Why the FIA penalised Norris and Perez in F1 Austrian GP

FIA race director Michael Masi has backed the Formula 1 stewards’ decision to hand Lando Norris and Sergio Perez penalties during the Austrian Grand Prix.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB16B battle for position.
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing…
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Norris was handed a five-second penalty after Perez went off the track and into the gravel trap as the pair battled for second-place after the Safety Car restart.

The verdict came under intense criticism with even Red Bull team boss Christian Horner disagreeing with the decision despite his driver being on the receiving end of Norris’ stern defence into Turn 4.

Perez was then handed two separate five-second penalties for failing to give Charles Leclerc enough space at Turn 4 and then Turn 6.

Masi explained the stewards’ rationale with them feeling neither Norris nor Perez left adequate space in the three instances that were referred to the stewards and thus resulted in penalties.

“The stewards had a look at all three,” Masi said. “In the first case it was Sergio and Lando and their view was that he was wholly alongside Lando and therefore there is an onus to leave car’s width to the edge of the track. And then the same in the reverse with Checo and Charles at the exit of Turn 4 and then Checo and Charles again at the exit of Turn 6.

“I don’t sit in the stewards’ room to deliberate, but their view was, in all three circumstances was that a car’s width should have been left to the edge of the track because the two cars were alongside each other. ”

A similar incident occurred on the opening lap of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton ran side-by-side into Turn 1, with the Red Bull driver forcing the seven-time champion to cut across the kerbs, giving him damage in the process.

Masi says Lap 1 incidents are treated with more leniency and that the incidents from Austria were not entirely comparable.

“I think first corner, lap one, and you have to remember this from a team perspective as well, that all lap one incidents are treated in a more lenient manner, and that has been the case for a number of years under the “let them race” principles, let’s call it,” Masi added. “But each and every one … obviously it’s very difficult to compare, and I know everyone likes to group everything, but it’s very difficult to compare two very different corners a la Imola and Turns 4 or Turns 6 here. ”

Masi hinted that gravel rather than asphalt run-off contributed to the penalties given that those who were affected lost more time than they would if the incidents occurred at the Circuit Paul Ricard, for example.

“Possibly, yeah. Obviously, the gravel does have an impact in those places. Yes, you would say looking at it logically,” Masi explained.

“Each of those you have to look at based on their merits, characteristics of the circuit etc.”

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