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FIA Urged to Reform Rules After Verstappen Clash

Norris, Stella Call for FIA to Review Fair Play Rules

01/07/2024

Following Verstappen’s contentious actions, Norris and Stella implore the FIA to overhaul regulations for enhanced fairness.

Andrea Stella and McLaren F1 remain incensed following yesterday’s race at the Red Bull Ring, especially after the incidents involving Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.

Stella believes the penalty given to Max Verstappen (10 seconds) was grossly insufficient given the multiple infractions observed (changing direction under braking, aggressive defence during overtaking, then squeezing Norris onto the grass…). Especially since the 10-second penalty did not affect the final result of the Dutch driver, who admitted to some clumsiness this morning, post-race (read here).

When asked if he had exposed a weakness in Verstappen’s personality during their clash, Lando Norris said, “I don’t want to talk about it too much. It’s up to you to decide.”

“I do what I can, I try to race well, race fairly. And that’s not what I received in return from him. I don’t care about the rest. Honestly, it’s not up to me to decide on all the penalties and that kind of thing. I feel what he did was unfair to my team.”

“Three times, no warning was given; he did it again the last time and ruined both our races. It’s up to the FIA to decide, but it’s not up to me or the court of public opinion. Even though I’ve had the support of fans in the past few hours, it doesn’t change anything for me if the FIA does nothing.”

Stella, who has already sent a personal message to Verstappen through the media (read here), believes the FIA should thus revisit its penalty system – so that a culpable driver is ‘truly penalized’ in their final result.

“It’s a delicate matter because if the stewards decided that 10 seconds was an appropriate penalty, they are, to a certain extent, sticking to their regulations.”

“So, it’s complex, because sometimes the outcome can be minor, sometimes it can be significant, as in this case with one car retiring, with the other car severely compromised. I don’t want to be in a position where I simplify everything and say everything was clear. Things are sometimes complex and deserve thoughtful consideration.”

“It would have sufficed to give Max a warning, like a black and white flag, to tell him ‘Don’t do it again.’ And he would have been much more cautious in blocking Lando. This issue can be easily resolved. But we are not upset. We think it’s not right, but it’s important that this issue is resolved for the future.”

“The 10 seconds were ineffective and the driver we are trying to catch in the standings gained 10 points. This really deserves some reflection. I’m sure the FIA will treat this as an episode that provides a wealth of cases that need to be analyzed and reflected on for moving forward.”

“The race provided us with a lot of useful information to correct some necessary aspects so that we can enjoy these kinds of battles up to the checkered flag. For me, it’s truly unfortunate that we didn’t see the last six or seven laps, because they would have been very entertaining, and they weren’t because the rules simply weren’t applied.”

Stella believes it’s in the FIA’s best interest to take action; otherwise, the risk is to relive a season like in 2021, marked by multiple clashes between Max Verstappen and his main rival for the title (Lewis Hamilton yesterday, Lando Norris today).

“Because we don’t want to see another 2021. It may have been entertaining, but not for the right reasons.”

“It’s an opportunity to tighten the boundaries and, in all fairness, enforce some of the rules already in place. We must be very clear about the fact that these rules cannot be abused to the extent that there is leeway to perform the same maneuver two or three times—and cause an accident the third time. As I’ve said, there is obviously frustration but, for me, what’s important is that this is now seen as an opportunity for the FIA, and for the sport, so that we can hopefully enjoy more of these battles in the future.”

“So that McLaren can race with Red Bull, knowing it will not end in a collision.”

The clash between Red Bull and McLaren F1 was severe. Stella notes that the damage to Lando Norris’s car was truly critical, leading to the Briton’s logical retirement.

“We assessed that the car was not in a condition to continue as the bodywork was unfortunately completely destroyed. Not just the floor.”

Stella also wants to review the track limit rule during overtaking

Finally, Stella wants the FIA to revisit its stance on track limits: it’s almost forgotten, but Lando Norris received a 5-second penalty for passing Max Verstappen off-track (his last off-track pass, just after he had received a black and white flag).

“If the track limit rule is there because you’re trying to overtake someone and you lock up the tires a bit—then I wonder what kind of racing we will have if this rule is applied in this way?”

“Drivers won’t even try to overtake because ‘oh, it will cost me one of the three track limit breaches I have.'”

“It’s important to address this for the future, because we want a distinction made between track limit breaches that are real, because you’re trying to gain an advantage. But it’s different if you lose a lot of time because you went off… those are racing maneuvers that we all appreciate.”

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FIA Urged to Reform Rules After Verstappen Clash

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