Tyre changes under red flags shouldn’t be allowed in the eyes of the McLaren racer
Lando Norris says a rule allowing work to be done on cars during red flags is dispensing ill-deserved fortune during races and having a huge impact on their outcome.
The McLaren driver had already pitted at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when the flags came out on Sunday, with others who had not yet been in then undertaking a tyre change, meaning they didn’t lose any time in the race itself.
Norris labelled it a “crap” ruling, even as he acknowledged his team benefited from it with the other driver, Daniel Ricciardo, boxing during the red flag to finish fifth – while Max Verstappen also took advantage of the situation to boost his hopes of victory, ultimately finishing second behind Lewis Hamilton.
“Probably the worst rule ever invented by someone, being able to change tyres under red flag,” Norris said to Sky F1.
“We said it last year already – not to take anything away from Pierre [Gasly] because people would probably say that’s what I’m trying to do, but with their Monza race last year Pierre got to change tyres for free.
“I don’t feel like it’s deserved in a way, it’s just complete luck and it’s luck that doesn’t need to be given to someone and that’s pretty much what it is, just given to someone.
“[It] just ruined our race today. Feels like you do so much just to get it all taken away, [which] sucks, because the team did a good job. I thought the car was pretty decent but this crap rule ruins everything.
“If Max [Verstappen] had won this race…I don’t know what happened in the Turn 1 incident with them, but if Max had won just because he got the free pit-stop then I feel like Mercedes would complain.
“I just feel like it’s such an unfair thing. They should still have to do that pit-stop – it should be more just unlucky rather than getting lucky.”
It could have been even more problematic for McLaren had both drivers already been in for a change, he added.
“If both of us had boxed then it probably would have been one of the worst days you could imagine. I’m happy from my side. I feel like I did a good job when I could, being patient and so on. A lot of people just crashed in front of me for some reason. We just got so unlucky and that ruined it.”
Norris is sixth in the driver standings for the 2021 season, four points behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ahead of the final race of the calendar in Abu Dhabi.