Norris slams 'worst rule' after Verstappen pit-stop under red flag

Lando Norris hits out at ‘the worst rule EVER’ that allowed ‘lucky’ Max Verstappen to switch tyres under a red flag at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the McLaren driver insists the move ‘ruined the race’

  • Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen to win chaotic Saudi GP on Sunday 
  • Verstappen was ahead after benefitting from red flag to claim a free pit-stop
  • McLaren’s Lando Norris slammed the rule that gave Verstappen an early boost 
  • He called it ‘the worst rule ever’ and admitted it ‘ruined’ the race in Jeddah 

Lando Norris was far from impressed with the rule that allowed Max Verstappen to benefit from a free pit-stop under a red flag at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, admitting the protocol was ‘luck’ and ‘the worst ever invented’.

Verstappen finished second to rival Lewis Hamilton in Jeddah but initially went ahead having benefitted from the first of two red flags following Mick Schumacher’s crash after 15 laps. He was able to switch rubber before the race restarted, while Hamilton pitted under the safety car. 

Later on there was a second red flag after Nikita Mazepin went into the back of George Russell – with Hamilton then edging ahead following a collision between the title rivals, but Norris was still left seething at Verstappen’s ‘luck’ earlier on.

Lando Norris says Max Verstappen (L) benefitted from ‘the worst rule ever’ at Saudi Grand Prix

The Dutchman was able to change his tyres under the first red flag before going ahead early on

He said Mercedes would have been furious had he gone on to win the race and said it was ‘undeserved’ in a move that tarnished the race.  

‘Probably the worst rule ever invented by someone, the red flag, being able to change tyres under a red flag,’ he told Sky Sports, via the Express.

‘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.

McLaren driver Norris (R) said Verstappen (C) was ‘lucky’ and that the rule ‘ruined the race’ 

‘Just ruined our race today, feels like you do so much just to get it all taken away. It sucks, because the team did a good job, I thought the car was pretty decent, but this c**p rule ruins everything.

‘If Max won this race, I don’t know what happened in the Turn 1 incident with them [Verstappen and Hamilton], but if Max 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.’

Verstappen came under fire during the race with many hitting out at his dangerous tactics to brake suddenly with Lewis Hamilton coming up behind him despite being ordered to give up his place to the Brit. 

The contest was marred by a controversial collision which saw Hamilton (right) go into the back of Verstappen (left) who was slowing down to give up his first place

Hamilton said: ‘We all know how to race. There’s only one of us who doesn’t.

‘I didn’t get the information (that Verstappen had been told to cede position), so it was very confusing. All of a sudden he started backing up and then moving. I was like, “Is he playing some sort of crazy tactic?”

‘All of a sudden messages started to come through, but he hit the brakes so hard l nearly went up the back of him.

‘For him, it didn’t matter if we both didn’t finish because he was leading by eight points at the start.

Hamilton went on to win the first ever Saudi Arabia Grand Prix ahead of Verstappen (back)

‘It will be interesting to see what happens…’ 

Hamilton drove into the back of his rival, clipping his rear, with Verstappen given a 10-second penalty for his tactics. 

Martin Brundle, commentating on Sky, said: ‘It’s been a dirty race in terms of tactics. Max did brake-test him. That was particularly naughty.

‘Max Verstappen has got to look at his driving standards. There’s aggressive, determined, feisty racing, and then there’s what we saw this evening, which was too much.’ 

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