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Norris: "Impressive" to crash with Perez after letting Red Bull pass deliberately

Lando Norris said it was “impressive” of Sergio Perez to somehow hit his McLaren during Formula 1's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix given the Briton “literally tried to let him past”.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

In a mostly unspectacular season finale, Perez attempted to dive up the inside of Norris under braking for the Turns 6-7 chicane in a scrap for fourth place on lap 47 of 58.

But the Red Bull driver appeared to need two goes at turning in to make the apex, with the later correction sending Perez clattering into the front-left wheel of the McLaren MCL60.

PLUS: The reasons why F1's 2023 Abu Dhabi GP wasn't a better race

Perez was handed a five-second penalty for the bash, meaning he dropped from second place - with Max Verstappen leading a team 1-2 - on the road to fourth ahead of Norris.

Norris sarcastically reckoned it was “impressive” of Perez to make contact since he had allowed the RB19 driver to have the position.

Reflecting on the coming together, he said: “He was ahead [at the apex]. I tried to let him past!

“I was four car lengths away from the apex. Somehow, he still crashed into me… impressive. I literally tried to let him past and somehow he crashed into me.”

Perez would eventually be hauled in front of the FIA stewards for labelling their decision a “joke” as part of a “very bad” run of form from the referees in 2023.

This contravened the International Sporting Code. He escaped with a formal warning, having made a “genuine apology”.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Fifth at Yas Marina meant Norris finished sixth in the standings, one point behind Aston Martin rival Fernando Alonso (seventh) and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (second).

On missing fourth in the points, Norris said: “Is it in the back of your head? Yes. Would I have loved to be fourth? Yes.

“But [second-starting] Charles jumped me, so nothing I could do about that. He had a very good weekend.

“If you're not first you're last, so it doesn't bother me too much… it doesn't change anything, doesn't change my mentality in any way.”

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Norris added that he had been unable to fight due to a lack of race pace, caused by McLaren’s ongoing struggles through low-speed cornering and exacerbated by the Pirelli tyres being prone to overheating.

He said: “The places that we were struggling with were clear, which was just the very slow speed corners: Turns 5, 6, 7 and then just 12, 13, 14. I'm saying almost every corner.

“To be honest, we were expecting a little bit more with the cooler temperatures. So, we were definitely missing something.

“But because of the lack of pace, I had to push very hard to keep up with the Mercedes and with the Ferrari. When I did that, I destroyed the tyres very quickly.”

 

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