“I’m not here to let everyone pass”

Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari hits the barrier after facing Lando Norris. Interlagos November 2022. Credit: Alamy

Birthday boy Lando Norris defended himself after a collision at the start of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with Charles Leclerc which earned him a five-second penalty.

The McLaren and the Ferrari touched down after the restart after the safety car period triggered by an incident that caused Norris team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen to retire.

Leclerc flew into the barriers but his race was not over, returning to the pits for a new front wing and finishing a very creditable fourth, while Norris later exited with a suspected electrical problem.

On the day he turned 23, Interlagos stewards offered no gift to Norris, who was handed a five-second penalty and two license points for a collision he thought was not nothing more than a “racing incident”.

“He tried to get around the outside, there was a bit of contact,” Norris explained in his post-race interview with Sky F1.

“Obviously I didn’t want any contact, I need a clean race, but I’m not just going to let everyone through. I’m not here to let everyone pass.

“I tried to hold my line and I held my line as much as possible. Maybe I could have given five centimeters more and he could have given five centimeters more.

“Maybe he should expect a bit more, with me not being able to hold the inside line throughout, but I tried my best.

“I think it was a bit of a racing incident – I know he came out of it worse and that’s a shame. Obviously I didn’t want that to happen, but that wasn’t the point. , it was just life and the rest was that we were too slow.

“The car was not very strong today, that’s all, and we didn’t even finish the race, so disappointing.”

Asked if he sustained any damage to his car in the collision, Norris said: “I want to believe there was a bit of damage. Maybe I’m completely wrong and that I invent it.

“I’m sure there was something small, more in the steering that just went a bit off center after the incident, but that didn’t cause us to drop in pace, I don’t think – maybe be a tenth lap or something.”

Norris was plagued throughout the Brazilian weekend with a stomach bug which meant he missed his media engagements on Thursday – and even meant Nyck de Vries had a suitable seat in case he was necessary to replace it.

“I feel good,” said the Briton. “My race ended early, so I already had time to relax and I feel a little better.

“I started to struggle a bit. I don’t know how many laps we were in – 40, 45 laps – I started to struggle a bit at that point but since then I’ve already been able to relax .

“But I’m fine, it’ll be fine next week.”

Read more: Lewis Hamilton after latest Verstappen incident: ‘What can I say, you know what it’s like with Max’

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