Stewards to investigate 130R incident between Max Verstappen and Lando Norris

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris, McLaren, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, nearly collide. Japan, October 2022.

Lando Norris, McLaren, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, nearly collide through 130R. Japan, October 2022.

Max Verstappen is on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix, pending a stewards’ investigation after a near-miss with McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Verstappen appeared to be preparing his tyres for a push lap during Q3 at Suzuka, at which point Norris came through 130R at speed as he looked to overtake.

It was a heart-in-mouth moment though as Verstappen’s Red Bull swung to the side to generate tyre temperature, nearly collecting Norris in the process.

Both drivers thankfully escaped contact to carry on, Verstappen ultimately taking what is provisional pole at this stage, with the stewards investigating the incident after the session.

“Unbelievable,” Verstappen exclaimed over team radio, subsequently waving a hand of apology to Norris later in the session.

“I was just driving quite slow and I wanted to accelerate but my tyres were quite cold, so then I had a big moment,” Verstappen told Sky F1 after the session as he described the incident.

“Then of course Lando was trying to pass me at the same time, so he had to avoid me a little bit. But luckily nothing happened.”

Verstappen’s Red Bull boss Christian Horner referenced Formula 1’s ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ when asked about that hair-raising moment, arguing it had been Norris who had gone against that in deciding to overtake Verstappen.

“They are both on out-laps and there’s a gentlemen’s agreement between the drivers,” Horner stated. “When you get to that part of the circuit you hold position and they file through the last chicane one by one.

“So Lando has obviously decided he wants to jump the queue as they head up to that final chicane, so they have been following each other all the way around the circuit until that point.”

Asked if Verstappen was trying to get the power down, or block Norris intentionally, Horner replied: “I don’t think he was trying to block Lando. I just don’t think he was expecting, on an out-lap, somebody at that point near the chicane.

“So I think he was just warming his tyres, getting ready to go and open his lap, because you can see they start one by one through there.”

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