Leclerc surprised by “aggressive” Norris Brazil GP clash

Charles Leclerc admits that he was surprised to be punted into a spin by an “aggressive” Lando Norris early in the Formula 1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

Leclerc surprised by “aggressive” Norris Brazil GP clash

The incident happened on the first flying lap after a safety car period triggered by a clash between Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo just after the original start. Norris had passed Leclerc, who was on medium tyres, off the line.

At the safety car restart, Leclerc was trying to re-pass Norris on the outside of Turn 6 when he was tipped into a spin by the McLaren driver.

Leclerc struck the barrier with the front of his car and was obliged to pit for a new nose and begin a recovery drive.

Norris received a five-second penalty for the incident, plus two penalty points, and he later retired from the race with an electrical issue.

Leclerc eventually recovered to fourth, although he was left frustrated after Ferrari opted not to swap him with Carlos Sainz, costing valuable points in his battle with Sergio Perez for runner-up spot in the World Championship.

Leclerc conceded that Norris was not usually the type of driver to make contact.

“No of course,” he said when asked by Autosport if he’d expect such a move from the Englishman.

“Obviously I know Lando is not this type of guy, but for some reason today he was very aggressive, and also yesterday the same with Carlos.

“I don’t really understand, but it’s like this. At the end I don’t expect him to let me pass, he didn’t, but today was too much, and he paid the price with the penalty, I guess.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, collide, resulting in a spin

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, collide, resulting in a spin

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

"I thought I had left space, well I'm pretty sure I left space, so I think he lost the rear and then touched me. So it's a shame.”

Leclerc conceded that he hadn’t expected to be able to continue the race after hitting the barrier.

“I was very surprised, yes,” he said.

“I think we were quite lucky, I don’t know how much damage the car had. It didn’t feel too bad, maybe steering a little bit to the right, but apart from that it was okay.

“And after that the pace was really good all in all. Especially considering the first lap before, it was the best we could do today.”

Leclerc believed that starting on mediums was the correct choice, although his incident meant that it didn’t play out was planned.

“I think it was. Obviously we never really saw our strategy just because of the first lap shunt, and I think Carlos had a few problems maybe, I don’t know.

"Difficult to judge it, but I feel like it was the right thing to do.

Mercedes is extremely quick. Today they were very strong, especially in the last stint, I think Carlos was with new tyres and they were with a bit older tyres, and they managed to keep the pace very strong.”

Leclerc admitted to some frustration about not being allowed to pass Sainz at the end, and he now heads into the Abu Dhabi on the same points as Perez.

"I mean, we had a discussion before the race for this situation. So I was just asking about that discussion. But overall, it's like this, we will be equal points with Checo in the last race.

“It's going to be a tight battle. I guess it will be up to me to do the job to try and fight with Checo.”

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