FIA race director Michael Masi stated the stewards felt Lando Norris and Sergio Perez should each have left space for another car when picking up penalties in the Austrian Grand Prix.
Norris was handed a five-second time penalty for forcing Perez off the track at Turn 4 after a Safety Car restart, and then Perez received the exact same punishment for a near-identical situation with Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver later tried to go round the outside of Perez at Turn 6 and ended up in the gravel again – with the Mexican picking up a second penalty. On each occasion the attacking car had earned the right to space, according to Masi.
“The stewards had a look at all three,” Masi said. “In the first case, it was Sergio and Lando and their view was that he was wholly alongside Lando and therefore there is an onus to leave car’s width to the edge of the track. And then the same in the reverse with Checo and Charles at the exit of Turn 4 and then Checo and Charles again at the exit of Turn 6.
“I don’t sit in the stewards’ room to deliberate, but their view was, in all three circumstances was that a car’s width should have been left to the edge of the track because the two cars were alongside each other.”
Norris raised a similar scenario, noting a first corner incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton earlier in the season at Imola, which saw Hamilton forced slightly off track. Masi said teams are aware the opening corner is often treated less severely.
“I think first corner, lap 1, and you have to remember this from a team perspective as well, that all lap 1 incidents are treated in a more lenient manner,” Masi said. “That has been the case for a number of years under the ‘let them race’ principles, let’s call it. But each and every one … obviously it’s very difficult to compare, and I know everyone likes to group everything, but it’s very difficult to compare two very different corners at Imola and Turns 4 or Turns 6 here (at Austria).”
Two didn't go into one – twice!
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 4, 2021
Masi added that the gravel run-off – and therefore larger penalty for anyone forced wide – could also play a part in the stewards’ decision-making in Austria compared to other venues.
“Possibly, yeah,” he said. “Obviously, the gravel does have an impact in those places. Yes, you would say looking at it logically… Absolutely. Each of those you have to look at based on their merits, characteristics of the circuit, etc.”