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Japanese GP: Lando Norris calls for 'harsher' penalties for blocking in F1 after Max Verstappen incidents in Singapore

"You've got nothing else to do [on an out lap] but hit the recharge button and look in your mirror and people seem to struggle to be able to do that in F1," says McLaren's Lando Norris; watch the Japanese GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with Sunday's race at 6am

Lando Norris believes Max Verstappen should have received a greater penalty for blocking at last weekend's Singapore GP and has called on the FIA to clamp down "harsher" on drivers who impede others in qualifying - suggesting that currently "no one seems to care enough".

Amid a dismal weekend for Red Bull on the street circuit last weekend, Verstappen was called to the stewards after qualifying last Saturday to discuss three separate incidents of alleged blocking - one in the pit lane and two on track.

He received two formal reprimands - one for delaying his exit from the end of the pit lane in Q1 and the other for blocking Yuki Tsunoda in Q2 - with Red Bull also fined €5,000 (£4,316) for the latter incident having admitted there had been "poor communication on its part" with Verstappen about the oncoming AlphaTauri car.

But Norris feels the world champion got away for the Tsunoda incident lightly - and argues that in general there should be greater sanctions for impeding others in qualifying.

"I don't want to say too much as I'll just create controversy. I think the blocking one on track was the one that should have been a penalty," said the McLaren driver in Thursday's press conference ahead of this weekend's Japanese GP.

"He blocked someone. It's not just down to the team. I know the team got fined in the end of the day but it should be down to the driver as well to look in his mirrors and see if someone else is behind.

"You've got nothing else to do the whole lap, you've got to look in your mirrors, and it seems like a lot of people struggle to do that. It should just be harsher penalties for blocking people because so many people do it. It ruins your lap, it ruins your qualifying. It put Yuki out in qualifying. He was P1 in Q1 and probably would have been P1 in Q3…all the way!

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"Just no one seems to care enough."

Arguing that cases of impeding are on the rise, Norris believes drivers have to take more responsibility in qualifying when cars on faster laps come up behind them on track.

"It's happened a lot this season, it's happened to me quite a few times, especially with certain teams," added Norris.

"But it's also up to the driver to look in the mirror. You've got nothing else to do [on an out lap] but hit the recharge button and look in your mirror and people seem to struggle to be able to do that in Formula 1. It's just a surprise."

Sitting alongside Tsunoda at Suzuka, Norris added: "I'll probably block someone else, Yuki, and make myself look stupid…"

What did the FIA rule last weekend? | Verstappen: 'That was the only thing I could do'

In its verdict on the incident between Verstappen and Tsunoda, the FIA said that "stewards reviewed a number of impeding and alleged impeding incidents from this current season and consistent with previous decisions in relation to the severity of the breach, impose a penalty of a reprimand on the driver and a fine on the competitor".

Verstappen was also asked on Thursday for his reflections on the incidents in Singapore.

"Every single instance is different," the Red Bull driver told reporters. "The only thing I can say about Singapore is that I explained what happened when I was sitting in the car, the information that was given to me.

"That was the only thing I could do.

"Then it is up to the stewards to make that call."

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Max Verstappen believes little details that were found in Baku back in April gave him the confidence to dominate in the Red Bull car this season

Nonetheless, the decision to only impose a reprimand for the incident with Tsunoda had raised some eyebrows.

Writing in his latest column, Sky F1's Martin Brundle said: "Quite how Max Verstappen didn't also get a penalty for impeding Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying when considering other penalties applied this season was a great surprise to many in the paddock, which I confidently predict includes the team and driver in question.

"That Tsunoda's Alpha Tauri team didn't send a representative to the hearing, albeit as the junior Red Bull team, was a sporting disappointment to me."

Drivers expected to discuss decisions on Friday

Other drivers were asked for their view on the incident in the Suzuka press conference.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said: "I was a bit surprised. Especially the one in the pit lane because that could open quite bad situations in the future.

"But it's always an open discussion with the FIA and trying to explain [to] them what our point of view is and improve. I'm sure we'll have that tomorrow [Friday] evening in the [drivers'] briefing."

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Sky F1's Karun Chandhok takes a closer look at the Suzuka Circuit ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton added: "We always push and work as closely as we can with the FIA to have consistency and there has been some variation, so we have to continue to work on it for sure."

George Russell, Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate, suggested the decisions "definitely sets a bit of a precedent".

"You want to have consistency across the board. It seemed pretty clear cut with a number of those incidents," he added.

"It was strange that they got away with that one [pit lane incident]. It didn't really affect any results but it doesn't matter if you're leading the championship or you're last, if you get in somebody's way you should be penalised for it."

Sky Sports F1's live Japanese GP schedule

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Look back at some of the most memorable moments to have taken place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Friday September 22

  • 3am: Japanese GP Practice One (Session starts 3.30am)
  • 6.45am: Japanese GP Practice Two (Session starts 7am)
  • 8.45am: The F1 Show: Japan
  • 10am: Japanese GP Practice One highlights
  • 11.15am: Japanese GP Practice Two highlights

Saturday September 23

  • 3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (Session starts 3.30am)*
  • 6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
  • 7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
  • 9am: Ted's Qualifying Notebook
  • 9.30am: Japanese GP Qualifying highlights

Sunday September 24

  • 4.30am: Grand Prix Sunday: Japanese GP build-up*
  • 8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
  • 9am: Ted's Notebook
  • 9.30am: Japanese GP race replay
  • 12pm: Japanese GP highlights

*Also on Sky Sports Main Event

Watch the whole Japanese Grand Prix weekend live on Sky Sports F1. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime

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