Max Verstappen reprimanded for Lando Norris incident, retains Suzuka pole

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen puts in a lap. Japan October 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen puts in a lap. Japan October 2022

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has escaped being punished for an on-track incident with McLaren’s Lando Norris during Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

Verstappen held on to his pole position qualifying result at Suzuka. The reigning World Champion, who could wrap up his second title this weekend should he win and claim the fastest lap, was on an out-lap and going slowly at the 130R corner.

Norris, behind the Red Bull on track, assumed full speed heading into 130R and met the Red Bull going slowly, with Verstappen appearing to respond by accelerating abruptly.

Verstappen seemed to briefly lose the rear of his car and spear across Norris’ path, resulting in the McLaren driver having to take to the grass in avoiding action.

With Verstappen and Norris summoned before the stewards to explain the incident, there was potential for the Red Bull driver to be given a grid penalty – given his apparent breach of Article 33.4 of the Sporting Regulations which covers erratic driving that poses a danger to others on track.

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.

But the stewards ruled against giving Verstappen a costly grid penalty, instead choosing to give the Dutch driver his first reprimand of the year.

“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 1 (Max Verstappen), the driver of Car 4 (Lando Norris) and team representatives and reviewed video and timing evidence,” read the verdict.

“[Verstappen] was aware of [Carlos Sainz] in front and [Norris] approaching from behind and decided to accelerate at precisely the same time as [Norris] decided to overtake [Verstappen].

“Unfortunately, due to a lack of tyre temperature on [Verstappen’s car], the driver temporarily lost control of the car, causing it to ‘snap’ anti-clockwise.

“[Norris] stated this was simply an unfortunate incident – however, it is the driver’s responsibility to at all times maintain control of their car.

“Regarding [a] penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a Reprimand, hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case.”

Verstappen thus keeps his pole position grid slot for the race ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Read More: Max Verstappen calls for ‘more respectful’ driving after Lando Norris incident