McLaren F1 Team had a mixed qualifying session for this weekend’s British Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz Jr. was out-qualified, once again, by rookie team-mate Lando Norris, as the Spaniard found himself eliminated at the end of Q2 and lining up thirteenth on the grid.
The former Renault F1 Team driver was not fully “comfortable with the car”, as a lack of rear grip explained the cause of his pace to diminish.
“A difficult day. I’m not 100 per cent comfortable with the car, especially with the rear end during qualifying,” Sainz added.
“Q1 didn’t look that bad though, I recovered a bit of the feeling with the car and I thought a good qualifying was possible. Then, as the session went on, we just got slower and slower, struggling on every run with the rear grip.
“Difficult to explain at the moment what happened there to be honest. We will analyse quali tonight – and probably next week – and then we’ll start thinking straight away about tomorrow, when we’ll fight to make our way into the points.”
Norris, on the other hand, had a better session. The home-hero managed to slot his MCL34 in to eighth and looks to achieve a third consecutive top-ten finish for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
The nineteen-year old was happy to get up as high as the fourth row despite feeling “annoyed” with a mistake on his last run in Q3.
“Not a bad qualifying – I think we can be reasonably happy,” Norris added positively.
“We struggled a bit. I was four-hundredths off P7, and a little annoyed because I had a slide in the last corner and probably lost four-hundredths there. Apart from that, I don’t think eighth is a bad starting position.
“I don’t think we had it easy; we struggled a lot with the wind change. It was quieter in Q1, I did my best lap then but as the direction reversed a little bit, I seemed to struggle a little more than some of the others. It’s something to look into but apart from that, not a bad Saturday.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl expects to see “some interesting strategies” from all the teams. He is optimistic that both Norris and Sainz can end the race with a similar result to the previous race in Austria, where they finished sixth and eighth respectively.
“After doing our homework overnight analysing the different test items that we tried yesterday with both cars, we started in the same specification for FP3 with both. We knew from yesterday’s running we could expect another tight midfield qualifying battle,” Seidl added.
“With Lando, we managed to have another strong quali, getting through to Q3 and gaining a good starting position in P8. With Carlos’ car, unfortunately for the second run in Q2, combined with the conditions getting worse, we just didn’t make it through in to Q3, by a small amount. Carlos commented that he was struggling with rear grip on his last run. Having studied the long-run data from Friday, starting from P13 and having a free tyre choice for the race, we still believe we’re in a good position.
“But we now focus on preparing for the race. We could see some interesting strategies tomorrow. We think we’re in a good position to fight for good points tomorrow with both cars.”