‘Something needs to be done’ – McLaren boss slams Monaco banner incident which had ‘catastrophic’ impact

Michelle Foster
Lando Norris brushes against the barrier in Monaco

Lando Norris brushes against the barrier in Monaco

Forced to pit late in Q1 having picked up what Andrea Stella revealed was a “few metres of advertising banners”, Lando Norris was lucky to progress in qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Costing him in a “pretty catastrophic way”, his McLaren team boss says something needs to be done as he fears loose advertising banners could decide Sunday’s Grand Prix.

McLaren: It shouldn’t happen that the car is compromised by these kinds of problems

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Given the nature of the Monte Carlo street circuit with its track evolution and propensity for red flags, instead of the usual three-lap qualifying strategy – out-hot-in – the drivers stayed out in Q1, laying down lap after lap.

Norris found himself in trouble when a swath of an advertising banner got caught under his McLaren MCL38, costing him “three seconds per lap”.

While his rivals continued to bang in the laps, he was forced to pit so that McLaren could remove the banner.

Brushing the barriers, the fastest way around the Monte Carlo street circuit, it was noticeable how the drivers were sucking the advertising loose off the barriers.

Norris wasn’t the only driver who that created a problem for with Charles Leclerc, the favourite to take pole position, also off the pace in Q1 with a piece of plastic, potentially from the track-side advertising, stuck to his Ferrari’s front wing.

Both drivers, once the unwanted debris was removed from their cars, progressed to Q3 where Leclerc claimed pole position with Norris P4.

However, his team boss Stella says there could’ve been “catastrophic” consequences for something that should’ve been fixed earlier in the weekend.

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“What happened in Q1 is something that should not happen, it’s not up to the standards of racing circuits,” Stella told the media including PlanetF1.com.

“The fact that the camera picked up a few metres of advertising banners. We caught it under the car and the car lost as much downforce as equivalent to three seconds per lap.

“Actually I have to praise the responsiveness of our team in assessing that. Despite being under so much pressure with time, we had lost so much performance that we needed to pit otherwise we would have been out anyhow. I appreciate the operational quality that we could deploy.

“But it shouldn’t happen that the car is compromised by these kinds of problems that have been there right from Free Practice One. It’s not that suddenly in qualifying the banners coming off. It’s been there every single session. And we need to fix it.

“Because I think it affected Lando in a pretty catastrophic way from a performance point of view. I understand potentially Leclerc as well, and some other drivers too.

“So what exactly is going to determine the race result? The lack of whether you take the banners off or not, or the outcome of the quality of the drivers, the car and the teams?

“Something needs to be done.”

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