McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for failing to pit immediately when qualifying was red flagged.
Norris had just completed the final sweeps of the Baku circuit when a red flag was thrown for Antonio Giovinazzi’s crashed Alfa Romeo.
He passed a red light panel and slowed down but was almost immediately at the pitlane entry dividing line and asked his team if he should pit but got confirmation too late and so crossed back to the track and stayed out.
That meant he crossed the finish line after a red flag was signalled, which is a breach of F1’s sporting regulations.
Norris told the stewards he was not sure what he should do in the circumstances.
Their verdict is that while a five-place grid penalty is appropriate for not respecting red flag rules in qualifying, they have made an exception and issued Norris with a three-place drop because he “only had a very short time to react due to his position on track”.
He will now start ninth, promoting Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda and Fernando Alonso one place each.
“I was in the middle and I was obviously continuing my lap and I didn’t know at what point I could really go left or right,” Norris had told Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.
“I slowed down straight away. I don’t think I did anything wrong. I was going at quite a high speed to come into the pit at that time.”
Norris has also received three penalty points for the incident, taking his total to eight for the previous 12 months.
That is four penalty points short of an automatic one-race ban.