McLaren’s Lando Norris is sceptical about standing restarts following the chaotic end to Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Briton eventually finished sixth after a red flag was brought out when Kevin Magnussen hit the wall and lost his wheel. It was the second red flag of the afternoon following Alex Albon’s earlier heavy crash, and it quickly led to a third.
Carlos Sainz made contact with Fernando Alonso, and while everyone was traversing the carnage, Pierre Gasly collided with Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon, sending them both out of the race.
After a deliberation over the appropriate order to resume the race, the FIA eventually settled on restarting under Safety Car conditions in the order the drivers were in before Magnussen’s incident.
Norris was bumped up to sixth following the Alpine crash and a penalty for Sainz for his part in Alonso’s spin, but the 23-year-old feels restarting the race late on after a red flag is not conducive to a fair result.
“It just feels like you can do such a good race and, because someone’s a bit silly and locks up in Turn 1, you just get your race finished,” he said.
“I don’t like the restarts. I guess maybe in the first quarter of the race I understand it – the second half and especially with four laps to go, I feel like you ruin a lot of things.
“ And I don’t feel like it’s fair for a lot of people who have done a good job and get taken out and it’s kind of race over. So, I doubt they’re going to change anything. I don’t feel maybe the second to last red flag was needed. I don’t know, I don’t see everything.
“From what I could see in the car, I didn’t feel like it was needed. I felt like it was just a ‘four laps to go, don’t want to finish under Safety Car’ kind of thing, and it just caused a bad end to the race. So, I think if we’d just finished behind the Safety Car, it would have been a bit more straightforward.
“A bit annoying from our side, but I guess we got a little bit lucky and got the position on Gasly, but also could have been a lot worse at the same time.”
Norris, whose points on Sunday were his first of the season, suggested a “small rethink” to red flag policy in the closing stages of a grand prix.
“I feel like if it’s before a quarter of the way through the race, I feel like you’re still within the first part of the race where you’re trying to get lucky and you’re taking those risks,” he added.
“I just feel like it can easily hurt people, and you can just be so unlucky after driving 56 laps perfectly. Someone does something stupid in Turn 1, locks up and your race is over because they just want to make the show more exciting.
“But, at the end of the day, I know it is a show, but we’re not here to just put on a good show; we want to race each other and be fair, and I don’t think it’s fair for everyone.”