Lando Norris was swearing on his radio when he arrived at the back of Sergio Perez in F1 Japanese GP under the Virtual Safety Car period.
After the contact between Red Bull’s Perez and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in F1 Japanese GP, there was a VSC period which automatically neutralised the race. The Mexican was driving slowly considering the damage he had but it was unknown to most others.
When McLaren’s Norris arrived at the back of Perez, he was forced to slow down as well. He didn’t know if the Mexican had damage or he was deliberately slow. The Brit couldn’t overtake him under the VSC which is why he lost about 10 seconds in that period.
This created a big gap to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc caught the back of him. Norris was rushing on the radio but before he could get an answer, the VSC period ended. Even his race engineer wasn’t sure of the issues for Perez.
Norris called the scene ‘bullshit’ on radio as he thought even if it was a long distant thing, he could have put some pressure on Verstappen or the margin of victory could have been a lot less if not for the blocking moment where he lost about 10 seconds.
“I was I was expecting him to probably lap us two or three times and he didn’t, so…I mean, I was expecting probably a bigger gap,” said Norris. “I think we all were, as a team. And I think it would have been a lot closer, I lost eight or 10 seconds behind Perez under the VSC. I don’t know what… he must have had a problem, right?
“But the thing is you can’t overtake under the VSC unless it’s obvious the guy has a problem and I don’t know what was going on, I didn’t know if he had a problem, whether he was just backing me up. I didn’t know and I couldn’t take the risk of just overtaking him. He was going so slowly and then when we get the flashing dash for the VSC ending, he went into first gear and then I was on the outside of him because he was going so slowly, and then he almost crashed into me. So I honestly have no idea.
“I was shouting in my helmet. I was swearing quite a bit, but just got… I was so confused, I didn’t know what I could do. I’m losing time to Max. The Ferrari guys were, I think, 1.4 seconds behind me after being I think 12s or 13s, so I lost 10 seconds. And I didn’t know what I could do at the time. If he has a problem, he should pull over and make it obvious that he has a problem.
“So he didn’t and therefore I couldn’t take the risk of passing under a VSC so no idea. I don’t think it would have changed the world, just made me stress for a little bit more. But it would have been maybe just a bit better to put Max under a little bit of pressure at least, after that. I don’t think we would have been quite as far behind.
“I don’t know how hard Max was really pushing. I’m sure he could have gone a bit quicker if he wanted to. But to be only 19 seconds behind, he didn’t get a free pit-stop, which was lovely. So yeah, a frustrating time, maybe I’ll ask next time what you’re allowed to do but I think I did the right thing so all okay,” summed up Norris.
Here’s Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri about start
Here’s Sergio Perez collecting four penalty points
Here’s how F1 Japanese GP panned out