McLaren were robbed of a points finish at the Canadian Grand Prix after stewards imposed a 'strange' penalty on Lando Norris over a crucial act involving teammate Oscar Piastri before the team's first pitstop. With both cars having qualified inside the top 10 a decent finish was on the cards for McLaren, only for Norris' ninth-place to be stripped courtesy of a five-second time penalty.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen crossed the line in first, equalling Ayrton Senna's number of grand prix wins, while also notching the team's 100th GP victory in a historic day for the team. Piastri, after staring eighth, narrowly missed a top 10 finish of his own, coming in behind 10th placed Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo.
Norris was penalised by stewards for 'unsportsmanlike behaviour', resulting in a five second time penalty which dropped him from ninth to 13th. This was because, while the safety car out an the entire field opted to pit, Norris backed off slightly to create a gap between himself and Piastri, who was in front of him at the time.
It's a practice often used by teams so they can 'double stack' pitstops - rather than the alternative of Norris having to do an extra lap while the rest of the field pits. McLaren made a similar move in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, while the same strategy was deployed by Aston Martin at the Azerbaijan GP earlier this year.
Neither of those resulted in a penalty, despite an investigation into McLaren's move in 2020 not resulting in any penalties under the guise of a breach of the sporting rules. Instead, Norris at the Canadian GP had his penalty impose under the FIA’s International Sporting Code - a separate set of rules beyond the specific rules for racing employed by F1.
Norris: If it's because of the delta times, then most people should be getting penalties for the last 3 or 4 years. So, I am a bit confused. There was nothing I could. I slowed down then warmed up the tyres, and they told me to box. I pushed and went as fast as I could.
— Junaid #JB17 (@JunaidSamodien_) June 18, 2023
Lando Norris: It doesn't make sense to me [the unsportsmanlike penalty]. I was 3/4 seconds behind my delta, which everyone quite often is. It was too early to box from what we were planning to do. So, I was not planning to box, and then I got a call. I am surprised.
— Junaid #JB17 (@JunaidSamodien_) June 18, 2023
Speaking after the race, Norris said he was confused by the reasoning for the penalty and said if his was now the precedent, then F1 stewards ought to have been handing out similar penalties for years. “It doesn’t make sense to me," he said.
“I was three or four seconds down… I’m quite surprised. The rest of the race I was very happy with. There were some fun overtakes.
“Everyone leaves gaps [in safety car period]. It’s not like I was 10 seconds down on my delta. If it’s a delta-difference, people should be given penalties for the last three or four years.”
Red Bull continue dominant season at Canadian Grand Prix
Red Bull have won every race so far this season and Canada was double world champion Verstappen's sixth of the campaign and fourth in a row. Team principal Christian Horner took the opportunity after the race to issue a scary warning that his team is capable of winning every grand prix this season.
"Today, to win the 100th grand prix for the team that's pretty incredible," said Verstappen, who has now led more than 200 consecutive laps. "I never expected to be in these kinds of numbers myself as well, we keep enjoying, we keep working hard but today has been a great day."
While Red Bull toasted a landmark victory it was not a perfect day for the team as Sergio Perez's worrying run of below-par performances continued with the Mexican failing to get on the podium for the third consecutive race. After a poor qualifying effort that saw him start 12th, Perez moved up to finish sixth and take the bonus point for the fastest lap.
Despite his recent struggles Perez remains second in the drivers standings, but a whopping 69 points behind Verstappen who leads with 195. There was also some disappointment in the Aston Martin garage with the team unable to deliver the double podium result owner Lawrence Stroll had asked for at his home race.
While Alonso reached the podium, the Canadian billionaire's son Lance Stroll finished ninth. Hamilton's third place provided more proof that Mercedes are heading in the right direction as the team looks to close the gap on the rampaging Red Bulls.
It is the second consecutive Grand Prix Hamilton has appeared on the podium while teammate George Russell had looked a threat until spinning into the wall early in the race, damaging his car. He did not finish the race.
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