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Norris: Leclerc should’ve passed Verstappen on restart off-track moment

IMOLA, ITALY – APRIL 18: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35M Mercedes leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF21 during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on April 18, 2021 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Clive Mason – Formula 1). Credit: Getty Images

Lando Norris, who finished third at the Imola Grand Prix, believes Charles Leclerc should have overtaken Red Bull driver Max Verstappen after his mistake before the red flag restart.

Verstappen was preparing for the restart when he suddenly lost control of his car and was almost outside the track limits with all four tires. That would have meant that Leclerc should have been allowed to overtake him and the Dutchman should have let him pass. From the point of view of the Monegasque Ferrari driver, Verstappen “always had a wheel on the track”.

Lando Norris, who was one position behind, believed that the Red Bull driver was off track with all four wheel and that Leclerc should have attacked.

“I had a great view of it. Quite funny actually. I think Charles could have gone past him, in my opinion. At that stage Max was out of control and going left and Charles kind-of just hit the brakes and slowed down and stopped. At some point he has to go past Max because he was facing the barrier for a lot of the corner.

“But at the same time Max was going very slow, so it was like Charles could have driven past him at the point. I’m not sure. I think if I was in P2, I would have gone for it, because you have a chance at winning then. It’s a risk that’s worth it.”

The Briton overtook the Ferrari driver immediately after the restart and established himself in the second position, even fending off some attacks from seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who eventually passed him.

He held off Hamilton from overtaking for a whole five laps, something which damaged the tires of the McLaren driver:

“I pretty much started saving the tyres from lap one after the restart, knowing that the last couple of laps were going to be pretty tough. And they were. Especially with Lewis at the end. A lot of focus was the last couple of corners, getting the deployment right, using the battery in the right way. I was trying to save up as much as possible. In the end, I didn’t have enough rear tyre out of the last two corners and the chicane to hold him behind, but I tried. It was a nice little battle.”

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