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Lando Norris

Norris in surprising Russell verdict: 'He should have seen it coming'

The McLaren driver has called into question George Russell's driving in the late controversial incident in the Australian Grand Prix involving Fernando Alonso.

Russell Japan
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Lando Norris has mounted a strong defence of Fernando Alonso's Australian Grand Prix penalty, believing George Russell "should have seen it coming."

On the penultimate lap in Melbourne, Alonso caught out Russell by lifting off the throttle 100 metres earlier than he had previously done so at Turn 6, forcing Mercedes driver Russell to take avoiding action.

This led to Russell hitting the barriers and bouncing back onto the racing line, sparking frantic calls for a red flag as the stewards hit Alonso with a 20-second time penalty and three penalty points for the incident.

Russell believes F1 risked opening "a can of worms" if Aston Martin's Alonso had not been penalised, with boss Mike Krack penning an open letter in defence of his driver.

McLaren's Norris was among those asked for his thoughts on the incident ahead of this weekend's Japanese GP, and was firm in his belief that Alonso had done nothing wrong.

Norris's Alonso defence

"It's just my opinion, and maybe all the drivers have different opinions, and what Fernando did was odd, like extreme, but I don't think it is even close to being regarded as a brake test," Norris told media including RacingNews365.

"Did he brake and downshift? I don't know the exact things, but should it be a penalty in any way? No. George, in my opinion, should have seen it coming, I don't want to comment too much on it, but George had time to see what was going on.

"I am sure it is always tougher being in that situation, so that's why I don't like commenting, but that kind of thing shouldn't have been a penalty."

Norris then referenced the incident in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when Red Bull's Max Verstappen brake-tested title rival Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, leading to him being handed a 10-second penalty, and chief technical officer Adrian Newey describing the Dutch driver as "foolish" for doing so.

Norris added: "Like Max and Hamilton, this was not a brake test, this was just trying to play very smart and Fernando being Fernando.

"It was not aggressive, it was not like one metre in front of a car and stopping, it was 100 metres ahead and the approach speed just caught George out, but nowhere near should that be a penalty.

"If George has to suddenly swerve or whatever, I guess it is a bit more of a question, but he didn't have to do anything but brake five metres earlier and it would have been a different outcome.

"It is also down to George, when you are a driver, you have to react to everything that is around you."

The F1 drivers are divided over Fernando Alonso's penalty, so do you think he should have been penalised? Let us know by voting in the poll and the comments!

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