The McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris believes the squad’s MCL34 had “potential” in Formula 1‘s Chinese Grand Prix, even after both cars sustained damage on the opening lap of the 1000th world championship event.
Norris started from fifteenth place and while jostling for position on the first of 56 laps, the British driver was pitched airborne and onto two wheels by Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Daniil Kvyat.
Norris’s car sustained severe floor damage – “which ruined our race” – and limped back to the pits, where he was forced to stack behind team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr, who was also caught up in the Kvyat incident, while the Spaniard’s front wing was changed.
Languishing at the rear of the field, McLaren then duly retired Norris from the race, after two further pitstops. The result was Norris’ first retirement since he stepped up to F1 at the start of the campaign.
“My start was pretty good, getting off the line well and making up places before I had to back out in Turn 3 when I was close to Kimi [Räikkönen].
“I was on the outside in Turn 6 and was hit which sent me into the air. That damaged the car, I lost a lot of places and had to box. That pretty much ruined our race,” explained Norris – who scored his first F1 points with sixth last time out in Bahrain.
“I didn’t have great pace afterwards due to floor damage but Carlos’ pace looked very good. The top-three teams aside, he looked to be the best of everyone else.
“So there was potential in the car today but the contact ruined it. On to the next one. [in Azerbaijan]”.
Sainz finished in 14th place, but recorded his first finish of the season since his move to McLaren from the Renault F1 Team in the off-season.
Kvyat was hit with a drive-through penalty for the opening lap incident and was later retired by Toro Rosso.