McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has defended Lando Norris questioning team orders during last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix, when closing on Oscar Piastri.
Starting from 10th, a podium seemed like a huge challenge for the 23-year-old; however, his chances massively increased after both Mercedes drivers span at the opening corner.
Norris made lightwork of most of the drivers ahead of him, before overcutting Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc, promoting him into third.
When he got himself into third, Norris was six seconds behind his team-mate, a gap which reduced in rapid fashion.
It wasn’t long until Norris was almost within DRS range of his team-mate, to which the Woking-based team told the British driver to “hold position”.
“We’re going to hold position,” McLaren told Norris. “Bring it home.”
The Briton instantly questioned this though, and said: “Why do you want to do that? We have a big gap. I’m clearly a lot quicker.”
Following Norris’ response, many hit out at the driver for not wanting to play the team game, something Stella has since insisted isn’t true.
Interestingly, Stella revealed that McLaren like their drivers to question team orders, to ensure that their opinion is viewed.
However, Stella notes that when a driver’s view is considered after challenging team orders, the driver must do what is said when they reply with a final answer.
This is exactly what happened between McLaren and Norris, as the driver did what he was told after at first challenging the instructions.
“In terms of the message you heard, this is part of our protocol, I would say,” Stella told Motorsport.com.
“When we give drivers an instruction, we tell them to challenge us because we want to make sure we understand their point of view. So: ‘Challenge us, tell us exactly what you think. We will reassess the situation and come back to you. But once we come back to you, just respect it.’
“And this is exactly what happened, and that’s what you heard. We ask drivers to challenge us.”
Norris went onto secure a second consecutive 2-3 finish for the British team, after finishing third at the Lusail International Circuit behind Piastri.