Lando Norris believes penultimate Aus GP stoppage was for entertainment purposes

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris speaks to Channel 4. Australia April 2023.

McLaren driver Lando Norris speaks to British TV after the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne April 2023.

Lando Norris is unsure the red flag caused late on in the Australian Grand Prix was fully necessary, with Kevin Magnussen’s crash having prompted a full stoppage of the race.

Magnussen’s Haas clouted the wall on the exit of Turn 2, sending his right-rear tyre carcass flying from his car and strewn across the track surface.

The Dane eventually pulled over in a safe place, well away from the racing line and near a marshal outpost on the exit of Turn 4, but the damage sustained and debris on the track was the reason given behind Race Control bringing the red flags out.

With a formation lap to bring the cars back around for a standing start, this left a two-lap shootout to decide the end of the Australian Grand Prix, with Norris having been running handily inside the points after making his way up from 13th on the grid at the start.

The race restart saw a host of cars make contact with each other, with both Alpines crashing into each other, Logan Sargeant slide into the back of Nyck de Vries, and Carlos Sainz tag the wheel of Fernando Alonso and spin him around, for which the Ferrari driver received a five-second penalty that dropped him out of the points.

While this all provided entertainment for fans in attendance at Albert Park and around the world, the McLaren driver was not quite so enamoured with how the process panned out for him behind the wheel.

He made sure to say he wasn’t “complaining” about how the end of the race was handled, not least because the previous starting order was reset when the race was red-flagged again, enabling him to hold onto his points finish and moving forward to sixth after Pierre Gasly retired.

But given the work he had already put in to reach a points-paying position, he felt another race start may not have been necessarily – especially in the name of entertainment.

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“I don’t see everything obviously, I see what I see in the cockpit,” Norris told Channel 4 after the race.

“I don’t feel like the second to last red flag was needed. The last one, I’m sure it was because there was a lot of people in the gravel and things, but the one before, possibly not. Maybe to put on a bit of a show.

“But yeah, I just feel like things can very easily get taken away for you after 55 laps of a race through no fault of your own because someone locks up in Turn 1 and takes you out, just because they want to make it exciting.

“I don’t know. I’m not complaining, it helps us a little bit and so on.”

Norris and team-mate Oscar Piastri, whose P8 finish was his first inside the points in Formula 1, ensured McLaren finally got off the mark in the Constructors’ Championship for the 2023 season, with rookie driver Piastri having the added bonus of getting on the board for the first time in his career in front of his home support.