Norris cleared to race at Spa; five-place grid drop

Jon Wilde
Lando Norris' McLaren crashes in Q3 for the Belgian GP. Spa-Francorchamps August 2021.

Lando Norris' McLaren crashes in the rain during Q3 for the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps August 2021.

Lando Norris has been cleared to race in the Belgian Grand Prix after his high-speed qualifying crash at Eau Rouge.

The Briton’s McLaren was destroyed in the accident on a saturated Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the early stages of Q3 and a gearbox change means he will take a five-place grid penalty, starting 14th.

Looking a strong contender for pole position after setting the fastest time in both Q1 and Q2, Norris was the first driver to attempt a ‘push’ lap as heavy rain returned for the top-10 shootout.

The 21-year-old reported aquaplaning on his ‘out’ lap and then lost control on the ascent at Eau Rouge, smashing into the barriers and his car pirouetting along the circuit.

Fortunately, an audibly winded Norris was able to hop out of the car when the medical car arrived and was then taken to a local hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his elbow.

Later, team principal Andreas Seidl confirmed Norris had been given the go-ahead to race. It was reported the MCL35M chassis was fine and therefore a pit-lane start was averted, but the power unit may still need to be changed.

If it is swapped out, the engine Norris had at the last race in Hungary can be fitted without penalty. A decision will be taken on Sunday morning.

Seidl, quoted by, said: “The checks were done in the hospital, also on his elbow that was hurting a bit. Everything is good, and he’s good to be back racing tomorrow.”

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Seidl added: “The most important thing is Lando is okay. Now our focus is on getting the car ready for tomorrow. Knowing Lando is in top form, hopefully we can get back into a position to score points with him.

“I didn’t speak with Lando in detail, it’s something we’ll do tonight. I think it was a reasonably heavy impact, but with the safety we have in F1 and the safety the circuit is having, luckily he ended up with just bruises or whatever.”

There was a positive for McLaren right at the end of qualifying, however, as Daniel Ricciardo in the other McLaren claimed fourth place on the grid and will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the second row.