Lando Norris believes the “free for all” that ended Q1 was “a lot worse” than he and Lewis Hamilton driving slowly off-line in qualifying.
He and Hamilton were both investigated for allegedly driving unnecessarily slowly, but were eventually cleared by the stewards – and Norris felt this was the right decision, given the circumstances behind his and Hamilton’s jostle for position – as he explained.
“It wasn’t unnecessary, it was necessary,” he said, as per Motorsport.com. “He wanted a slipstream, I wanted a slipstream, and I didn’t want to pass him because of it. So he did nothing wrong, it’s racing. It was like second gear or something.
“Daniel [Ricciardo] did it to me a few years ago. Everyone knows it happens here at times. I don’t feel he did anything wrong. I probably would have done the same thing if I was in his boat.”
Lance Stroll’s crash at Turn 2 brought out the red flags towards the ends of Q1 in Baku, with only 2m30s left on the clock when the session restarted for the 15 drivers sat in the pit lane to try and set a lap.
Nice of the drivers to put on an extra sprint race to get to the flag on time. Spoiling us.#AzerbaijanGP 🇦🇿 #F1
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) June 11, 2022
Fernando Alonso ran too deep into Turn 15 on his flying lap and brought out the yellow flags, scuppering attempts for the drivers behind as he scraped through to Q2.
But the drivers involved were fighting for position as they looked to get a lap on the board, trying to overtake throughout the lap as they searched for ideal track position – with the risks attached to driving full throttle on an out lap in a packed field.
Because of that close-contact racing, Norris thinks that’s a significantly worse scenario than the ‘no, after you’ tactics in play by him and Hamilton – but added the caveat that the rules of engagement in such situations are not all “fair game”.
“I think what’s a lot worse and more dangerous is when everyone goes out the pits at the end of Q1, and it’s just a free for all, and you have people racing across the start/finish line,” he elaborated.
“That’s more dangerous, because people actually take risks in doing things whereas when it’s like me and Lewis, Daniel was just a little bit behind and obviously Daniel didn’t want to go past either.
“But I don’t think anything’s fair game. I think just what he did was completely within reason, he was on the side, he wanted to let me past I didn’t want to go past, there was no one around us on push laps. So yeah, there’s no reason for anything to happen.”
Norris will line up P11 in the race on Sunday, being joined on the sixth row by McLaren team-mate Ricciardo.
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