Verstappen keeps Japanese GP pole after reprimand for Norris incident

Max Verstappen has kept pole position for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix after receiving a reprimand for the incident with Lando Norris in Q3 at Suzuka.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Verstappen was under investigation from the stewards after a near-miss with Norris at 130R as both drivers came to prepare for their opening laps in the final stage of qualifying.

Norris was forced to take to the grass to avoid hitting Verstappen, who was slowing and warming his tyres when he appeared to momentarily lose control just as the McLaren went to pass.

Norris said he expected Verstappen to receive a penalty for the incident, but the stewards have instead handed the Red Bull driver a reprimand.

It means Verstappen will retain pole position for Sunday’s race at Suzuka, where he will clinch his second F1 world title if he wins the race with the fastest lap.

During the hearing, Verstappen told the stewards that he was aware that Norris was behind him, but decided to try and accelerate at the same time Norris went to try and past him.

Verstappen claimed that due to a lack of tyre temperature in his rear tyres, the car snapped and caused him to lose control, meaning Norris had to take evasive action.

Despite his immediate comments after qualifying suggesting Verstappen should get a penalty, Norris said in the stewards’ hearing that it was “an unfortunate decision”, according to the FIA.

“Regarding penalty, all previous breaches of this nature have resulted in a reprimand hence a similar penalty is imposed in this case,” concludes the FIA’s bulletin. It marks Verstappen’s first reprimand of the 2022 season.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Verstappen explained prior to the stewards’ hearing that the cars were slowing on the run to the final chicane to try and create gaps, but that it was up to Norris to leave enough space to the car ahead.

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“He still wanted to get me into the chicane, but I was at the point of accelerating, but I was on very cold tyres so I had like a little moment, and that’s why he had to drive around me,” said Verstappen.

“If you’re just a bit more respectful, then everyone is anyway lining up. I don’t think anyone is trying to pass into that last chicane.

“Basically by trying to pass me, you create that kind of problem.”

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