Lando Norris saw a shot at the podium slip away, almost literally, at Silverstone as more clutch problems affected him during his mandatory pit stop in Saturday’s FIA Formula 2 Feature race.
The Carlin Motorsport driver was running inside the top six and had extended his opening stint by a lap compared to many of his rivals, but fell to the back of the field as he stalled his Dallara F2 2018 as he attempted to pull away.
“Everything apart from our pit stop was good,” said Norris to The Checkered Flag. “I mean the team did a good job on the pit stop itself, but as I went for the pull-away, the revs went up and as I went to release the clutch then it just fully engaged, and I stalled.
“Sergio [Sette Câmara] came very close to doing exactly the same thing, but he just about got away with it, and I was just on the unlucky side and he was on the lucky. We don’t know why, we’ll have to go at the data, but from some of the stuff so far, there wasn’t a lot I could have done. All my pull-aways for some reason I really struggled.”
Norris admitted the problem was the same that has blighted his race starts in 2018, and he felt that he was being conservative with the pull-away only for the car to still stall.
“Same problem. I did no different to before, everything the same,” said the Briton. “It just does something a bit random, something we haven’t seen in a while.
“I didn’t release quickly, I released very slowly, I was very near 95% throttle, and it just stalled. As a driver you just react and release the clutch, you’re full throttle and I was basically 95% releasing and it just goes.
“In that situation of doing a pit stop, you’re not like ‘no, I’ll slowly pull away’ you react quickly, and even though you react quickly I was still conservative with what I did, it wasn’t as though I just dumped it, I was still trying to slip the clutch as slowly as possible and it still goes.”
Norris felt the pace he showed, both before and after the pit stop, was strong enough to warrant a finish on the podium, although he did not think he would have had a shot at victory.
“I think we had good enough pace for a podium at least,” said Norris. “By the end of the race my pace was still good, I made up quite a few places from where I was.
“It was hard to say if it was possible for a win, I think I was good enough for definitely for a podium at least.”
Norris fell further behind fellow Brit George Russell on Saturday, but he hopes to start fighting back in the championship in Sunday’s Sprint race, with the duo separated by just three places on the grid, although to the ART Grand Prix driver’s advantage.
“Of course he’s pulled away more in the championship, so not the greatest of days for me,” said Norris. “But my pace was obviously good today.
“I need to do what I didn’t do in the Red Bull Ring, which was use up too much of the tyre at the beginning of the race, I need to look at the big picture and make sure I get a good result and some points to keep me up there.
“There is a possibility I might be able to get top five, because looking at today our pace was good enough for that. Still pretty long race, tyre wear is a bit of factor, so hopefully we can be on the better end of that and get some positions at the end.”