Alex Albon, Williams, Red Bull Ring, 2022

Albon unhappy with “unfair” penalty for forcing Norris off

2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Alexander Albon says he received an “unfair” five second time penalty and two superlicence penalty points for forcing Lando Norris off the track during the Austrian Grand Prix sprint race.

The pair were battling over 11th place on lap four of the sprint race when Norris attempted to pass the Williams using DRS around the outside of turn three. After rounding the apex side-by-side, Norris bounced over the yellow sausage kerb on the exit of the corner and onto the run off, allowing Albon to retain position.

“He pushed me completely off,” claimed Norris over team radio. “I was ahead of him and he pushed me off.”

“Yeah, we saw it,” replied Norris’s race engineer Will Joseph. “It’s just like we discussed earlier.”

Norris eventually passed Albon on lap six and went on to finish 11th, while Albon crossed the line in 13th but fell to 16th on the grid after the stewards handed him a five second time penalty for deeming him to have forced Norris off the circuit. Albon was also handed two penalty points on his superlicence, bringing him to a total of six over the last 12 months and half way towards a potential race ban.

Albon claimed the incident was unintentional and a result of the characteristics of his Williams which make it challenging for him to race closely with other drivers.

“I’ll let you make what you saw of it but, for me, I was pretty much in front going on the brakes,” Albon explained. “So I braked where I can brake and unfortunately we are quite sensitive on the aero, especially on the front, and when a car goes late on you around the outside, that’s it.

“I would have easily made the corner if I was in front, but just the way how much later he braked, I caught the dirty air almost in the middle of the overtake. You saw we were struggling out there today. We didn’t have much grip, so understeered wide, but there was no attempt to push him wide, it was just the limitation of what we have. It is hard for us to battle around other cars and that’s the simple fact of it, I think.”

Albon said he disagreed with the stewards decision to penalise him for the incident. “Obviously, I’m going to say it’s an unfair penalty because I’m not that kind of driver,” he explained. “I’m not trying to force anyone off the circuit.”

After a number of drivers were either noted or investigated for forcing rivals off the track at the end of last weekend’s British Grand Prix but no penalties were applied, Albon believes his penalty may be a legacy from how similar incidents had been handled at Silverstone.

“I’m not surprised because we complain about it and then they go extra hard the next race, it’s the same with most things,” Albon said.

“I think Lando didn’t lose much, he overtook me after so I think there needs to be a little bit of forgiveness and understanding as well. We’re not all driving the same cars out there. I feel like we got done by, we lost three or four positions there for the main race and I don’t think it was deserved.”

The incident comes amid growing tensions between drivers and the FIA race control structure after a drivers meeting on Friday evening saw Sebastian Vettel walk out in frustration. Other drivers, such as Fernando Alonso, have been openly critical of what he perceives as inconsistent application of racing rules, with George Russell saying there was “no accountability” from the FIA race director and stewards in the current system.

Asked by RaceFans if he felt his penalty was another example of inconsistency in stewarding decisions this season, Albon said “yeah, it does.”

“We had a long chat in the driver’s briefing about this kind of stuff and you’ve seen it,” Albon continued. “There tends to be, when people complain about a decision, the next race it becomes extra tough on that decision, whatever it may be. So it’s the rules.

“We’ve talked about ‘let them race’ after Silverstone and then we can’t race in Austria. So it’s tricky and it’s a moving goalpost for us – we don’t really know what we can and cannot do. Anyway, it is what it is.”

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2022 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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23 comments on “Albon unhappy with “unfair” penalty for forcing Norris off”

  1. I don’t necessarily share his view on unfairness, especially as he escaped another 5-second addition for spinning Seb, but his frustration with the overall situation is understandable.

  2. On the face of it I totally agree. Unless there’s something I’m missing there were multiple incidents like this last week that weren’t punished.

    1. Difference in those events from last weekend was the team compared to Williams.

  3. manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited.

    Simple as that. The problem isn’t penalising Albon, it’s not penalising other instances of these events. I’ve never understood why it’s considered acceptable to run another driver out of road if they’re on the outside, it’s quite literally outlawed.

    1. Absolutely. It’s in the FIA Code. There is no higher authority in any FIA series.

      1. I would be happy to be wrong but I dont believe this is in the sporting regs. To the contrary the sport seems to follow the principle that if you have the racing line you can follow it. And any car, inside our outside, in your way gets the door shut or driven off the road. The only rule about leaving space afaik is for when you block on straight you can’t sweep across the entire track twice. That is the 2011 Monza Rule (Schumacher/Hamilton)

        As for Albon if he knew they would make up for letting Checo cut an entire corner and drive two people off the road in consecutive corners by throwing the book at the next perp why is he complaining?

        1. This is verbatim copied from the International Sporting Code, the FIA rulebook which applies to every discipline they regulate.

        2. It most definitely is; the general stuff is all in the code, only the specific issues are handled in the sporting regulations of the series. The FIA International Sporting Code, in Appendix L on driver conduct, lists the phrase under chapter 4, article 2.b and the F1 Sporting Regulations, under article 2.1, states that all drivers and competitors (i.e. the teams) must observe all provisions of the Code.

          The FIA race director and stewards must enforce the Code. Unfortunately, F1 is so used to bad officiating that the race directors and stewards have gotten it into their head that they can decide not only when to enforce the rules, but also to make up entirely new ones (e.g. the secret overtaking guidelines).

        3. I think the issue is that the interpretation of “deliberate crowding” is actually interpreted against the car on the outside—because that car doesn’t have the line. That is the car doing the “hinder[ing]” in this approach.

          I think that’s an incorrect, formalistic manner of interpretation, but I can’t see how we have got to where we are otherwise, which is where the result of every side by side battle into corner is a forgone conclusion. Except where the stewards make an arbitrary exception. I would argue that if the cars are side by side the “line” is in unclaimed and both cars have a right to some part of the road.

          1. Lines don’t factor into anything. If a driver leaves less than a car’s width between them and the track boundary, any car in that gap is being crowded off. Lines, overtaking, whatever, it doesn’t matter. If a driver has to move past the track boundary to avoid a collision, they are being crowded off.

            The whole concept of lines and claiming them, is generally undocumented. Overtaking “rules” are convention; they aren’t actually rules. MichaelN is absolutely correct when he says that race directors are making up rules (and therefore decisions on penalties) arbitrarily.

    2. Yes, that defenitely IS an issue @apostle

  4. Tough. He deserved it … and deserved further points and a drive-through for punting Vettel off.
    The problem with drivers under pressure to perform to save their careers, is that they are too desperate on track.

  5. Karma for bitching when Lewis touched you in your back wheels and pushed you wide, because you think your car ends right behind your head, same as Vettel thinks.

    1. Transmix Albon always gets a free pass for his clownish driving and is always whining about Brazil and Austria. Maybe people will stop the Lewis derangement syndrome and finally see Albon as a mediocre journeyman driver who cant race close wheel to wheel with other drivers.

      The problem with albon is that he is similar to zhou: heavily state backed pay drivers not doing anything of note to justify their F1 existence apart from driving for nations underrepresented in f1 (Nation branding) but hailed as the great drivers when they finish 9th whilst mega talents like F3/F2 champion Oscar Piastri cant get a race seat..

      1. Couldn’t agree more!

  6. Racing is banned, unless you drive for merc, rb or ferrari against the same teams.

    1. Pushing another driver off the usable portion of the track is not “racing”. If you want to stop an overtake, do it within the confines of the circuit.

      1. @apostle Exactly!

        This sort of comment (the one from @peartree) really bugs me. According to them, pushing other cars off track to avoid being overtaken is ‘racing’ — but in reality, it’s preventing anyone from being able to race. If the only overtaking move with a chance of success is a divebomb down the inside, everyone just covers and inside and pushes anyone foolish enough to attempt a move around the outside off track.

        There’s your ‘racing’; no one can overtake except with DRS on a straight.

      2. @apostle Albon had no way to go either, his car is not going to phase through reality and disappear, he can’t hit the reset button and suddenly not occupy the piece of track he was in. You don’t want racing you want yielding.
        @exediron your comment bugs me too, you don’t know what racing is. Racing is not driving on the road. You want to give Albon a ticket for not disappearing out of Norris’ way.
        Why don’t you focus on Gasly who is a dangerous driver instead of real racing incidents.

  7. Didn’t Norris cry a lot last year after getting a penalty for exactly same thing? And Norris got a penalty in Austria, I think.
    So, if you push someone out, “it’s hard racing”. If someone pushes you, “He must get a penalty”. Looks like kids are driving, not men.

    1. Norris complained because others were NOT penelised for doing exactly the same a race earlier and a race later Sviat. Just like Perez complained about exactly that same.

  8. I have to disagree with Albon there, this was a pretty clear case. Lando was almost passed by Ricciardo after that and maybe he collected some damage, because after that he seemed to lose pace and it took quite long to get back into fighting Albon. Without it, the McLarens would have been closer to Bottas and the Hamilton-Haas fight.

  9. Albon was clearly at fault for forcing Norris off track.

    What I did find intriguing though was seeing very similar incidents in the F3 Sprint race earlier in the day. At Turn 1, on Arthur Leclerc took a late dive in the inside forcing the driver wide and off track. I felt at the time that if this was F1 they would have had a penalty, however, the commentary was saying what a wonderful move it was. When the same driver carried out the same move a few laps later, he tried to make T1 3 wide, forcing contact between the other 2 drivers. From what I could find, there was no penalties given.

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