F1 pundits baffled by stewards ‘sympathy’ over clear Lando Norris jump start

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris standing in parc ferme after the race

Lando Norris was cleared of a jump start in Saudi Arabia

Cleared of a jump start by the Saudi Arabian GP stewards, Anthony Davidson was baffled by the decision as footage showed the McLaren driver “clearly” moved before the lights went out.

Lining up sixth on the Jeddah grid, Norris was under investigation by the stewards after moving forward on the grid and then braking before the lights went out for Saturday night’s race.

Stewards cleared Lando Norris of a jump start

Such was his notable movement, Mercedes’ George Russell flagged it over the radio. “Jump start Norris!” he told Mercedes.

The stewards, though, ruled that he had done nothing wrong as the transponder on his MCL38 “did not indicate” that there’d been movement.

“The stewards reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video and determined that the video appeared to show that Car 4 moved before the start signal was given,” their report began.

“However, the FIA-approved and supplied transponder fitted on the car did not indicate a jump start.

“Article 48.1 a) of the Formula One Sporting Regulations states clearly that the judgment of whether or not there was a jump start is to be made in accordance with the transponder, which did not show a jump start. In the circumstances, we took no further action.”

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F1 pundits question the stewards’ decision

But with television replays clearly showing movement from Norris, who went forward and then braked, former F1 driver Davidson is baffled by the stewards’ ruling.

“He jumps and is clearly outside of the start box. And from my understanding of the rules, I’m no driver steward, but if you start when you’re outside of the box then that’s a penalty,” he told Sky Sports.

“Maybe because he stopped the car and, looking at it in a sporting context, he really lost out from that jump start.

“Maybe they took pity on him. I don’t know, but I’d really love to speak to the stewards to understand their theory and thoughts behind that one.”

His fellow pundit Naomi Schiff also doesn’t understand the stewards’ call, and isn’t in favour a decision based on sympathy.

“Honestly I don’t understand,” she said. “He’s clearly moved before the lights have gone out.

“He’s not only clearly moved before the lights have gone out but he’s also positioned outside of the box. Now there’s already two out of three options of how you can do a false start.

“I didn’t know, apparently they’ve taken sympathy, according to Ant Davidson they’ve taken sympathy, I don’t know how I feel about that.

“Clearly nobody else has felt strongly enough about it to push on it.

“But for us or for anyone out there trying to judge on the sport. when this happens next time are they going to take sympathy or how do we judge it? That’s my question.”

Former F1 driver Karun Chandhok added: “It looked at me that he had gone over the line. I then, because he was cleared, I thought it was within tolerance. But slow-motion shows otherwise.”

Norris went on to finish the Grand Prix in eighth place.

Speaking to Sky about the situation, Norris agreed he had moved a “little bit” but insisted he had not gained an advantage by the movement.

“I don’t know what happened, it happened so quickly,” he said. “I just went a little bit and then tried stopping again and then went again. But overall, I lost, I didn’t gain anything from it.”

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