Lando Norris left ‘shouting and swearing’ due to Sergio Perez VSC drama

Jamie Woodhouse
Sergio Perez looking at Lando Norris. Azerbaijan, Baku. April 2023.

Sergio Perez looking at Lando Norris. Azerbaijan, Baku. April 2023.

Lando Norris admits he was “shouting and swearing” as a slow-moving Sergio Perez cost him ten seconds in race time under Virtual Safety Car conditions.

The Virtual Safety Car came out after Perez had collided with the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with both drivers requiring a trip to the pit lane for repairs.

And during that VSC period, ultimate P2 finisher Norris found himself coming up behind Perez, travelling at a very slow speed, though Norris was unsure whether he could overtake the Red Bull driver or not.

Lando Norris “shouting and swearing” at Sergio Perez

Ultimately, Norris claimed that it cost him up to 10 seconds and left him very flustered in the McLaren cockpit.

Asked what was going on during that Perez VSC incident, Norris replied: “I have no idea. I don’t know.

“I mean, he must have had a problem. Right? But the thing is, you can’t overtake under VSC and it’s obvious the guy has a problem and I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know if he had a problem, whether he was just backing me up, I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him.

“He was going so slow and then when we get the flashing dash for VSC ending, he like went into first gear and then I was on the outside of him because he was going so slow and then almost crashed into me. So honestly, I’ve no idea.

“I was shouting in my helmet. I was swearing quite a bit, but I just got so confused. I didn’t know what I could do. I’m losing time to Max, the Ferrari guys I think 1.4 seconds behind me after being I think 12 or 13. So I lost 10 seconds. And it’s just I didn’t know what I could do at the time.

“If he has a problem he should pull over and make it obvious that he has a problem. So he didn’t and therefore I couldn’t take the risk of passing under VSC, so no idea.

“I don’t think it would have changed the world, just made me stress a little bit more. But it would have been maybe just a bit better to put Max under a little bit of pressure at least after that. I didn’t think we would have been quite as far behind, so yeah, frustrating time.

“Maybe I’ll ask next time what you’re allowed to do. But I think I did the right thing, so all okay.” recommends

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The final gap to Verstappen over the line was 19 seconds as Norris made it back-to-back P2 finishes, with Oscar Piastri claiming his first top-three finish to make it a double podium for McLaren.

For that reason, Norris felt the achievement here at Suzuka eclipsed his P2 last weekend in Singapore.

“A lot less stressful,” said Norris as he compared Japan to Singapore, the latter having seen Mercedes hunt Norris and Carlos Sainz in a thrilling four-way victory scrap. “Especially the last five, 10 laps.

“But just I’d say better, because we have two cars on the podium. So from the team side of things, yes, I’m much happier. Our first one since Monza a couple of years ago.

“But probably in a way like almost deserved in terms of we’re there on pure pace, nothing has to go our way, we’re just where we deserve to be so yeah, an incredible day for everyone, but also for myself. Things went maybe not always to plan, but the pace was extremely strong.

“In a way it feels better because the pace was stronger, I could push and we were where we deserve to be. So a good job by the whole team to execute a perfect race.”

Asked if he was expecting a final deficit of 19 seconds to Verstappen, Norris joked: “No, I was expecting him to probably lap us two or three times!

“I mean, I was expecting probably a bigger gap. Probably I think we all were as a team.

“And I think it would have been a lot closer, I lost eight, 10 seconds behind Perez under the VSC. I don’t know how hard Max was really pushing, I’m sure he could have gone a bit quicker if he wanted to, but to be only 19 seconds behind, they didn’t get a free pit stop, which was lovely. I think it’s just signs of our progress.

“It’s a track which has suited the car very well. I’ve been very comfortable since Friday to push and get in a good rhythm and I think that’s probably one of the most important things here is to feel comfortable with the car, get in a good rhythm and I could do that yesterday and I could do it today. And that shows with our speed we were able to perform.

“So yeah, another podium for us, great result, loads of points, so very good.”

McLaren made great strides in closing down Aston Martin in the battle for P4 in the Constructors’ Championship, the gap now down to 49 points.

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