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Norris: Flashing light distraction prompted near F1 jump start

Lando Norris thinks the distraction of a nearby flashing light, potentially from someone filming him, triggered his near jump start at Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The McLaren driver was lucky to escape a penalty after he edged forward before the lights went out at Jeddah a fortnight ago.

While rivals, including George Russell, complained about him jumping the start as his car was seen to move, the FIA stewards ruled that there had been no offence as the car transponder had not triggered anything untoward.

Norris himself admitted to being “a little bit surprised” that he was not picked up for the incident, even though he gained no advantage.

Reflecting on what had caused the moment, Norris said that it was all triggered by him reacting to a nearby light – which may even have come from someone filming him.

“I've never done this ever in my life,” he said. “Since I did karting I've never done it, so I don't know what suddenly happened.

 “You're so like just ready to go, but it's quite dark and there are so many lights. So I don't know if I've just reacted to a light elsewhere, either in the corner of my eye or somewhere in front, from people videoing or whatever it is.

“I reacted to something, but obviously quickly enough managed to stop. Then I've hurt myself in terms of the actual run down to Turn 1. I don't know if I can answer why it happened.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Once the race got going, Norris said he expected to be informed that he had been given a penalty for the jump start – but it never came.

“I was waiting for something, my engineer to come across and tell me something, but never did,” added Norris.

“I don't know the true extent of how the rules work for it - at what point you have to be stopped, or how the transponder trigger works and all of these things. I was a little bit surprised. Yeah, but I didn't gain anything from it.” 

Norris said he would ask for some guidance from the FIA in the drivers’ briefing in Australia about the situation regarding jump starts, just to get some clarity on what is and is not allowed.

He reckoned the jump start situation was further clouded by the fact that Red Bull’s Sergio Perez also got away without a penalty despite being seen to have creeped forward before the lights went out.

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“This [Perez’s rolling] was more of a penalty than my one but it wasn't a penalty, right?” added Norris. “So again, I don't know what the ruling was for this and how they define this.

“In my eyes, you can easily see my one as potentially it should be a bigger penalty because I'm what people might think, pre-empting a start, which is normally the opposite, because I have terrible reactions.

“This one is a genuine advantage of actual starting procedure. My one, I wasn't trying to pre-empt: I'm just trying to react. And I've accidentally reacted, which is a mistake

“Whereas what happened with his car, and I don't know if he was doing it on purpose or what, so I can't comment on it, will help a start. But again, I don't know the rules are for it.”

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