McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris feels that their car has had “decent pace” in practice for the Styrian Grand Prix, despite having a difficult day suffering from a few setbacks.
Running a total of 25 laps during the morning session, Norris finished up in fourteenth position, with a 1:05.908 personal best. In the second session, he ran 31 laps, setting a 1:04.541 personal best, securing him eighth.
The Briton was positive overall about his performance over the two sessions, but noted he did not complete as many laps as he would have liked due to some problems on the car. The stewards also awarded him a three-place grid penalty for not slowing sufficiently under yellow flags in the first session following an accident involving Pierre Gasly and Sergio Pérez.
“I had a difficult day with a few setbacks. I didn’t complete as many laps as we would’ve liked to because of a couple of problems, but the car still feels good and I think we have decent pace,” he said.
“I think a few other teams have stepped it up a little bit more and extracted more than we could since last weekend, but we’re still in a good place heading into tomorrow and Sunday. The car feels nice and that gives me good confidence, but the conditions are looking like they’ll change for Saturday and Sunday, so we’ve got to be ready for that.”
“We need to keep analysing” – Sainz Jr.
Norris’ team-mate, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr., was optimistic about his performance over the course of both sessions, but was aware of the importance of times in practice this weekend as they could be used to make up the grid if qualifying is cancelled due to the adverse weather which is due to hit the circuit.
Completing 40 laps in the first practice session, Sainz Jr. put in a 1:05.602 personal best, putting him seventh on the timing sheets by the end of the session. In the second session, he ran 45 laps, securing fifth place with a 1:04.333 personal best.
“Repeating the same track for the second consecutive weekend helped us to compare a few set-ups. I tried a few experimental changes to get on top of the balance issues I had last weekend,” he said.
“Some of them were positive, others not so much, so we still need to keep analysing going into the weekend. It’s a bit of a special Friday because of the risk of qualifying being cancelled tomorrow. Many drivers went out on new tyres and tried to put a good lap-time in just in case. We’ll see what the weather brings, but it could get interesting!”
“We need to find every last millisecond” – Stella
Racing director Andrea Stella appeared happy with how the day had gone, noting that the only negative was the grid penalty Norris received, but he believes they will nonetheless be able to secure a good result in qualifying.
“We had good performance and a good result last weekend, but what we also learned is that the competition is incredibly tight and we need to find every last millisecond of improvement in the MCL35, both for qualifying and race pace,” he said.
“So, back on track at the same venue today, we had a comprehensive programme of testing experiments, comprising aerodynamic work, tyres and set-up items.
“The car ran well, we got through the programme, and this evening, both here in Austria and back at the MTC, the task is to take as much knowledge as we can out of the data to improve the car overnight.
“The only negative note was a grid penalty for Lando, but we’re confident we can perform well in qualifying – whenever that may be,” he concluded.