Lando Norris’ unsportsmanlike behaviour penalty sparks confusion from rivals and Martin Brundle

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris at the drivers parade. Montreal June 2023.

McLaren driver Lando Norris walks the track before the race. Canada June 2023.

Martin Brundle has called for a “tidy-up and rationalisation” of how FIA penalties are administered, after Lando Norris was punished under the bracket of ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’ on Sunday.

The FIA stewards found Norris to have backed up the pace too much behind the Safety Car, with team-mate Oscar Piastri in front and McLaren looking to execute a double-stack with their drivers in the pits.

So in order to minimise his waiting time, Norris appeared to give himself a bit of extra distance between himself and his team-mate, though the FIA took a dim view of this tactic and the punishment dropped him from ninth at the chequered flag to 13th and out of the points, when the penalty was applied.

Norris railed against his punishment after the race, telling Sky F1 that it “didn’t make sense” and it’s a common tactic used by drivers in Safety Car conditions, to a degree that “most people should be given penalties for the last three years or four years” if going too slowly was the FIA’s concern.

He admitted this left him “a bit confused” afterwards, and Sky commentator Brundle revealed that conversations he had with other teams in the paddock meant that Norris was far from alone in that view.

“The stewards were being firm with the rules,” Brundle wrote in his post-race Sky Sports column.

“I often speak to them to understand these things and they always have data and rationale to go with their calls, there’s no shooting from the hip involved. But, as with any referee system, there’s a human judgment call.

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“In the race, Lando Norris took a five-second penalty for backing off under the Safety Car to build a gap to his team-mate Oscar Piastri ready for a double-stacked pit stop.

“I felt sure there was a clear rule about that so that a driver can’t disadvantage all those behind while making their own pit stop faster, but the stewards had to use an umbrella rule about ‘unsporting behaviour’ to nail him.

“Even rival team managers were telling me post-race that it’s been normal and accepted behaviour to build a small gap behind the Safety Car before a double team pit stop for a few years now, which indeed was Lando’s firm view.

“Of course like any sport you need rules and a firm referee otherwise you quickly have chaos and anarchy, but I can’t help but feel our constantly evolved and complex rules are ready for a tidy-up and rationalisation.”