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Why Norris' China F1 sprint pole lap was deleted and reinstated

McLaren's Lando Norris pole lap for Formula 1's sprint at the Chinese Grand Prix was deleted and then reinstated, as race control manually overruled its scoring system.

Sprint Pole man Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, receives his Pirelli Sprint Qualifying Award

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Rain made the already slippery Shanghai surface even more treacherous and Friday afternoon's final segment of sprint qualifying was peppered with incidents, with world champion Max Verstappen going off twice and Charles Leclerc tapping the wall with his front wing.

McLaren driver Norris bagged sprint pole, but not before his lap was briefly deleted. Right before embarking on the lap that would yield pole, Norris went off at Shanghai's tricky final left-hander, crossing the white line with all four tyres and dumping his right-hand tyres into the gravel.

As per usual, the FIA deletes the lap drivers go off in the final-corner excursions and the system also deletes the following lap to prevent drivers from gaining an advantage by not respecting the last turn to increase exit speed.

While this is standard practice on many circuits, race control soon realised Norris had not gained any advantage in this case. McLaren team boss Andrea Stella estimated Norris had lost at least three-tenths by going off, compromising his acceleration to start his eventual pole lap.

Race control therefore manually reinstated the lap and restored the Briton's pole position. Had he gained an advantage going off, or had the event notes explicitly stated the lap time would be deleted, however, then it would have been scrubbed.

But Shanghai's gravel trap on the exit of the final left-hander makes it almost impossible to leave the track and gain an advantage.

"They might have thought that in this case, I think if he'd been off at the last corner it kind of has implications for the following lap," Stella told Sky Sports F1.

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

"The following lap is the pole lap and that lap is completely clean. So there's no problem at all.

"It was reinstated by the FIA themselves. And definitely, because you go off out of this corner, you launch at a much lower speed.

"Effectively, Lando loses almost three-tenths because he's been off at the previous corner."

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Stella explained Oscar Piastri's gearbox went into neutral on his final lap due to excessive wheelspin, which prevented the Australian from qualifying higher than eighth.

"Congratulations go to Lando in particular, because in these conditions it was very much a driver's job to be done. And he did it," he said.

"Oscar had an issue, unfortunately, coming out of the hairpin. Because of the wheelspin, his gearbox went into neutral and he lost a lot of time.

"Otherwise, we could have had the two drivers high on the grid for the sprint, but overall, a good session for us. We are happy."

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