McLaren begin proceedings to clear Lando Norris’ name after Canadian GP penalty

Thomas Maher
McLaren's Lando Norris at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

McLaren's Lando Norris at the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2023.

McLaren have lodged a petition for a right to review Lando Norris’ time penalty from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Norris was given a five-second time penalty for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ under Safety Car condition during the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve two weeks ago.

This was for slowing down the pack to allow a gap to open up in front of him, to teammate Oscar Piastri, in order to ensure that he wouldn’t be held up when he arrived in the pits as McLaren opted for a ‘double-stack’ pitstop, ie. pitting both cars within a few seconds of each other.

McLaren ‘surprised and uncertain’ by stewards rationale

The time penalty cost Norris his ninth-place finish in Montreal, dropping out of the points as a result of the five-second addition to his race time.

“During the Safety Car period the driver slowed to allow a gap to form between his team-mate in Car 81 [Piastri] and him. In doing so he delayed the cars behind,” said the stewards’ verdict in Canada.

“There was a significant difference in speed between Car 4 [Norris] and Car 81 [Piastri] between Turns 10 and 13 (approximately 50 km/h).

“Article 12.2.1.l of the ISC refers to ‘any infringement of the principles of fairness in competition, behaviour in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the results of a competition, in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics’.”

McLaren are not accepting the rationale behind the stewards ruling, and have now lodged a petition for a “right to review” the stewards’ decision to award Norris a time penalty.

We are very supportive of the FIA and the stewards, and we trust them while they carry out what is a difficult job,” a statement from McLaren read. recommends

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“We appreciate stewards need to make decisions in a short timeframe, analysing complex scenarios and often with partial information and multiple elements to consider.  

“In Canada, we were surprised by the penalty and uncertain as to the rationale behind the decision. We spoke to the stewards immediately after the race to help understand the reasoning for the penalty.”

McLaren: Enough evidence exists to appeal for right to review

The first step in the process of having a stewards’ decision re-examined is to figure out whether new and admissible evidence has become available for consideration, evidence which the stewards did not have access to at the time when the decision was made.

McLaren believe they have this evidence, which is why they are submitting the petition for a right to review.

“The FIA’s regulatory framework has tools and processes which allow them and the sport to deal with the operational complexity of Formula 1, especially for decisions which need to be made during the race,” their statement continued.

“The “right of review” is one of those processes which showcases the strength of the institution in allowing decisions to be reviewed, should that be in the best interest of the sport and this is something McLaren fully embraces and supports. 

“Given this provision, the team took the initial explanation onboard and decided to review the case in a calm and considered manner, performing comprehensive due diligence, which included looking at the precedents. After this careful and extensive review, we believe enough evidence exists to submit a “right to review” to the FIA, which we have done so. 

“We will now continue to work with the FIA closely, in the same constructive and collaborative manner in which we normally do, and will accept the outcome of their deliberations and decision.”

The evidence McLaren are likely to present is that of precedent pitstops, as such a tactic used to be commonplace in Formula 1, with McLaren boss Andrea Stella saying in Canada no agreements had been made to clamp down on the practice.

“We spoke to the stewards after the race because we thought this kind of speed under a Safety Car, or even a Virtual Safety Car, should not be a reason for infringement,” said the McLaren boss.

“There’s the possibility the stewards want to set new references. We will discuss with them. Ultimately, we trust their judgement but we are reviewing the behaviour of Lando because we come out of this race very surprised that this has caused a penalty.

“We understand the position of the stewards. We understand that they may want to set a precedent so that there’s a kind of new way of interpreting the way you have to drive under a Safety Car. If that’s the approach, fine. But it’s a bit of a shame that we are involved in this setting of a new precedent.”

The sporting regulations do not expressly forbid such a practice, with the rulebook only covering slowdowns under the Safety Car to be against regulation if they are deemed to have been potentially dangerous, or if the driver has fallen more than 10 car lengths behind the car in front of them on track.

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