Formula 1

McLaren Endure Challenging Friday in Russia as Sainz, Norris Struggle

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Credit: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images / McLaren F1 Team

Carlos Sainz Jr. felt both free practice sessions at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday were challenging for the McLaren F1 Team, with neither he nor team-mate Lando Norris managing to break into the top ten in either session.

Sainz ended the morning’s running with the eleventh fastest time but fell to a disappointing seventeenth in the afternoon after failing to find the same kind of time gains as others, although he felt traffic also played a part in that as well as the performance of the MCL34.

“[It was a] challenging Friday during both sessions today,” said Sainz.  “We attempted to try different set-ups which didn’t work and traffic ruined our best attempts. We aren’t where we want and we have work ahead of us this evening.

“However, we’re ready for the challenge, even if the weekend looks difficult today. Conditions will be different tomorrow with a high possibility of rain – so let’s see what we can do.”

Team-mate Norris admitted he was also struggling with his car and ended sixteenth in the morning, although he was able to improve to eleventh in the afternoon.  He feels there is a lot still to come from the car but compared to how it was seven days ago in Singapore he does not feel as comfortable behind the wheel.

“Not a bad day,” said Norris.  “I’m struggling with the car, as it’s a little unpredictable at times, making it easy to make mistakes. I’m not yet as comfortable with the car compared to Singapore, for example.

“We definitely made progress between the sessions and we’ll now work hard overnight to make more improvements.”

Andrea Stella, the Performance Director at McLaren, admits the car does not seem to have the same kind of performance levels as they did at the Marina Bay Street Circuit last weekend, and there is plenty more work to do on Saturday if they are to fight for points on Sunday.

“We had a busy couple of sessions today,” said Stella.  “We undertook some aerodynamic tests and also an evaluation of the package we took to Singapore last week – Marina Bay not being particularly suitable for testing. In addition, we had to evaluate the tyres we have this weekend, attempting to understand which is the right compound for the race.

“We got through the programme well with no problems or delays, and our running generated a lot of useful data. On the downside, the car doesn’t appear to have the pace it did in Singapore. We have some work to do to improve and fight for good points on Sunday.

“There is rain around tomorrow and we’ll have to take our opportunities as they present themselves, but the information gathered today will be useful for what should be a dry race.”

Lando Norris
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