Norris and Piastri ‘still respect each other’ despite ‘unacceptable’ Monza close call

Lando Norris says there’s no respect lost between him and teammate Oscar Piastri after their clumsy crash at the Italian Grand Prix.

Piastri had outqualified Norris for just the fourth time this season in Monza and led him in seventh and eighth during the first stint of the race.

Both were bottled behind Alex Albon’s Williams, which was slower around the lap but too quick in a straight line to be passed, leaving the papaya cars potentially vulnerable to an aggressive strategy from behind.

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Fernando Alonso was perceived to be the most significant threat despite running two places and more than three seconds down the order.

The Spaniard made his sole stop on lap 21. As the second of its drivers on the road, Norris was judged to be most at risk. The Briton was given priority and stopped on the following lap, easily covering the undercut.

But the side-effect of Norris’s stop was that he undercut past Piastri when the Australian changed tyres one lap later.

Piastri emerged from pit lane alongside Norris and attempted to remain side by side through the chicane, but he got on the brakes late and ran deep, his front-left tyre making contact with Norris’s rear-left — a cardinal motor racing sin.

Neither car was damaged, but Piastri had to concede the position.

Team principal Andrea Stella was explicit in condemning the contact after the race, describing it as “unacceptable”.

“There should never ever be contact between two McLaren cars,” he said. “There was a contact, which doesn’t fit the way we go racing at McLaren.

“What is important is to have clear parameters as to what you deem acceptable and what you deem unacceptable.

“Both drivers were aware that there must be no contact between two McLarens.”

PIT TALK: Ferrari couldn‘t stop Max Verstappen to winning a record-breaking 10th consecutive grand prix on what was an entertaining afternoon in Monza — so long as you weren’t McLaren principal Andrea Stella, who had to watch Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris engage in friendly fire partway through the race.

But Norris played down the incident, describing it as a classic situation of new tyres meeting a big braking zone.

“I guess he was just on cold tyres, had a little bit of understeer,” he said, per Racer. “I tried to leave enough of a gap. It’s very difficult to see in the mirror. I left a good gap.

“But just hard and cold tyres, it’s not a nice combination, and I guess he just ran into my rear tyre.

“No, [not ideal], but I think we respect each other, we give each other space, and fortunately nothing happened, so it’s all okay.”

Piastri’s race subsequently unravelled thanks to a crash instigated by Lewis Hamilton late in the afternoon that broke the Australian’s front wing.

Hamilton was penalised five seconds for the crash, but Piastri was forced to make a debilitating second pit stop for repairs, dropping him out of the points.

‘Hamilton makes contact!: Piastri struck | 02:30

But the pace of both cars was encouraging for the team, which had earmarked Monza and its long straights as a danger race for a car that’s been afflicted by excess drag all season.

“I think we clearly had two cars capable of being in the points,” CEO Zak Brown said. “I think we were quicker than the Williams but not quick enough, because we couldn’t get by — Albon drove extremely well, he didn’t make any mistakes.

“They were giving it all they had. We were quicker, just in the wrong spots. The Williams was really strong in a straight line.

“Then of course Oscar tangled with Lewis. Lewis got his penalty, but that didn’t fix our front wing.

“I’m sure he’ll be disappointed, because he knows he had a car to get him in the points, and he was running strong. He drove fast.

“We knew this was going to be a tough weekend, so to come out of here with some points is good.”

Brown said he was optimistic about moving back up the grid when the sport returns to circuits with less extreme layouts in the final phase of the season.

“Our low-downforce set-up is our weak spot,” he said. “I feel good about Singapore, I feel good about Japan. I feel good about the rest of the season.”

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