Lando Norris: ‘Whoever says it didn’t look so bad on TV should shut up’

Jon Wilde
Start of the Japanese GP. Suzuka October 2022.

Start of the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka October 2022.

Lando Norris has concurred with Alex Albon that onboard camera footage fails to do justice to the poor visibility drivers face when racing in the rain.

The Japanese Grand Prix was originally allowed to start while rain was falling at Suzuka, but was red-flagged after Carlos Sainz crashed out and there were at least two other incidents where cars made contact on lap one.

Race Control decided the track was unraceable for two hours after the stop button was pressed, eventually given the go-ahead for a 40-minute dash to the end of the three-hour window in which it could be completed, with Max Verstappen winning both the grand prix and the World Championship.

Albon, who joined Sainz as the only two drivers to retire after being caught up in an early incident that caused terminal damage to his Williams, said “visibility was non-existent – we couldn’t see further than five metres in front of us”.

Referring to the spray kicked up by cars ahead, he added: “Whatever everyone sees from onboards, it’s 100 times worse out there on track – it’s really bad.”

Lando Norris' McLaren through the esses in the Japanese GP. Suzuka October 2022.
Lando Norris' McLaren through the esses during the Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka October 2022.

Norris suggested those who criticise officials for what could be perceived as an over-cautious approach, following the 65-minute delay to the start of the Singapore Grand Prix the previous weekend, need to consider the situation from the competitors’ perspective.

Describing the decision to go ahead with the original standing start in Japan as “borderline”, the McLaren driver, quoted by Motorsport-Total.com, said: “The difficult thing is not that it’s too wet but that it’s difficult to see anything at all. Those are two different things.

“In qualifying, those conditions would be perfectly fine and I would love to race. But when you start 10th on the grid and you can’t see anything …

“And you can say ‘it didn’t look that bad on TV’. But if you say something like that, you have to keep your mouth shut because the risk we take to race in those conditions, it’s crazy.”

Norris also agreed with Albon about the range of visibility drivers have, quantifying it at “five, ten metres even if there’s a big taillight on”.

The 22-year-old Briton added: “You also don’t see when someone stops in front of you. I didn’t see Carlos’ crash. If I’d been a metre to the left, I’d have crashed right into him because you just can’t see anything.”

Rather than simply ruling out racing altogether in such conditions, Norris would prefer an answer be found to the problem of spray.

“Then we could race even in worse conditions,” he said. “I’d love to do that – I love weather like that.

“In F2, F3 and F4 we raced in worse conditions. But the spray coming off the tyres [in F1] is just too intense.”

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