Mixed fortunes for McLaren in Japan

by Findlay Grant

It was a day of mixed fortunes for the McLaren F1 Team at the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka International Racing Course this weekend.

Drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. finished fifth and thirteenth respectively.

“A very good day in general. Qualifying was extremely strong after leading the midfield on Friday. We secured seventh and eighth clearly ahead of our main competitors,” said Sainz Jr.

He went on to say that this good form continued into the race, having a good start and ending up in a wheel-to-wheel fight with Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton.

“Later, in the race, I had a good start on the inside line and fought again wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton. From there I controlled my pace and went for a long first stint.”

Sainz Jr. said he was especially proud of his second stint, being able to keep the Scuderia Ferrari of Charles Leclerc behind him.

“The second stint was especially strong, with very good pace and keeping Leclerc behind to secure another fifth.”

The Spaniard concluded that he was very pleased with the result, albeit a bit disappointed that his team-mate Norris hadn’t also been able to finish in the points.

“I’m very happy with both results today, quali and the race, and the only downside is that Lando couldn’t finish in the points due to an unlucky situation.

“The team clearly deserved another double-points finish here in Japan. Congratulations!”

In contrast, it wasn’t such a positive day for Sainz Jr.’s rookie British team-mate Lando Norris, who had started eighth, but dropped down to thirteenth by the time the chequered flag dropped.

“A frustrating day. I made a really good start and managed to get to the outside of a few drivers at Turn One.

“Then there was contact ahead of me, debris and guys spinning. I had to slow down, unfortunately, and gave up a position or two but was still sixth I think.

Norris found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when other drivers started spinning off the track, picking up debris on his tyres, and forcing him to make a pit stop earlier than planned.

“In the chaos, I collected some debris in the brakes, which meant I had to box really early on and then the rest was pretty straightforward.

I did what I could but I always struggled towards the end with the tyres and just couldn’t make enough progress to come back through. Some positives, some negatives – but good points for the team from Carlos.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl remains optimistic despite the mixed emotions of the weekend.

“Great execution today from the entire team, and 10 more points in the bag, extending our lead over the teams with whom we are fighting in the Constructors’ Championship. It was a sensational drive from Carlos to fifth – but we have mixed feelings because we might’ve had Lando up there as well,” said Seidl.

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