Lando Norris will start from a disappointing at for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, after an incident with Max Verstappen left the McLaren driver cutting across the grass at 130R.
The near-miss, which the Brit admitted after qualifying would’ve been a “pretty big crash”, clearly shook the driver up, which is fairly understandable given that he nearly had the biggest crash of his career at one of the fastest corners in Formula 1.
The incident occurred during Q3, while the drivers were all on their out-laps.
Whilst heading towards 130R, Verstappen overtook Norris before oddly slowing down halfway around the corner.
Despite it not being an official rule, the drivers tend to keep to a gentlemen’s agreement to not overtake one another in the final few corners of an out-lap, in order to get the best run possible out of the final corner to start a hot lap.
Had Verstappen not slowed down at 130R then everything would’ve been okay; however, the Dutchman went quickly to overtake the McLaren before slowing down, which ultimately caused what could’ve been a truly terrifying crash.
Norris suddenly picked up his speed as he approached 130R as he was ready to pursue his hot lap; however, had to dart across the grass on the inside of the corner as Verstappen’s rear tyres suddenly lit up with wheelspin, shooting the Dutchman across the racing line.
Had Norris not become a temporary lawn mower with his MCL36, then the pair would’ve collided.
The incident was clearly Verstappen’s fault, which made it no surprise that the stewards investigated what happened.
The McLaren driver was insistent that the championship leader deserved a penalty, after believing he “quite clearly” tried to block him.
“It’s quite clear he tried to do that [defend],” Norris told Sky F1.
“There’s no rule on doing what you can do. But doing what he did is something you cannot do.
“People always overtake before the last corner. As much as everyone always agrees to it, everyone always does it so it doesn’t matter.
“He probably would have done the same if he was in my situation, but I wouldn’t have swerved at him if I was in his situation.”
Somewhat surprisingly, the pole sitter was allowed to keep his P1 start for Sunday’s race, after being awarded a reprimand, rather than a grid penalty.
The Dutchman was found to have breached Article 33.4 of the Sporting Regulations, stating: “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”
The reprimand for Verstappen doesn’t unfortunately make up for Norris’ ruined Q3, with the Brit having been unable to set a truly representative time with his tyres clearly not being in the right condition after going across the grass.