Formula 1

Lando Norris: “We thought we would have a little bit more in the bag for qualifying”

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Credit: Charles Coates/Motorsport Images/McLaren F1 Team

Lando Norris felt he did as much as he could during Qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Briton set to start Sunday’s race at the Nürburgring from eighth on the grid.

The McLaren F1 Team racer felt he maximised his performance, but the disappointment was that his best lap was only good enough for a place on the fourth row of the grid. 

Norris felt the MCL35 felt better on track at the Nürburgring than it did at the Sochi Autodrom two weeks ago, which bodes well for the future, but he believes he had more pace in the car than he was able to show in Qualifying.

“I think today was as good as we could do really,” said Norris.  “We weren’t quick enough to make further improvement, so I think we maximised our performance – even if P8 is a bit disappointing.

“The car was feeling relatively good and we have a better feeling than we did in Sochi, which is the main thing. We thought we would have a little bit more in the bag for qualifying, but we didn’t.

“Overall, not a bad day – the car feels relatively good – but tomorrow’s going to be tricky due to the weather, so we’ll see what we can do.”  

“FP3 was not enough to fine-tune the set-up properly” – Carlos Sainz Jr.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. was far less happy with his Saturday, although the Spaniard made it into Q3 and will start tenth on the grid.

Sainz is running with upgraded parts this weekend at the Nürburgring, but after Friday’s running was wiped out by the weather, it left the team very little time to learn how the updates were working, with an hour ‘not enough’ time to fine-tune the car.  He felt he went into Qualifying on the backfoot as a result of the car not having an optimum set-up.

The Spaniard, who will join Scuderia Ferrari in 2021 in place of Sebastian Vettel, said it was disappointing that Norris was able to extract more pace from the older specification than he was, so more testing of the parts will be needed going forward to improve the car further.

“A very challenging Saturday for us – mainly because yesterday we didn’t have the time to test the new package I’m running this weekend,” admitted Sainz.  “FP3 was not enough to fine-tune the set-up properly and qualifying was a struggle.

“I did improve through the session, but I haven’t felt like we’ve put the car into its optimal window yet. We need to look carefully into it because the other car seemed to extract a bit more from the other spec, so the target is to optimise the new parts as soon as possible. Hopefully we’ll get there with more running. 

“The points are tomorrow, and we could have an interesting race due to the weather changes, so we’ll keep an eye on the sky.” 

“Qualifying went pretty much as planned” – Andreas Seidl

Andreas Seidl, the Team Principal of the McLaren F1 Team, admitted Saturday was a challenging day for the team, particularly on the back of losing all available track time on Friday due to the inclement weather at the Nürburgring.

The team was forced to change their Saturday morning plan following the abandonment of both first and second practice on Friday, and this left them with limited running to understand the aerodynamic updates that were introduced on Sainz’s car.

With no real information about long runs, Seidl says the team are heading into ‘the unknown’ in Sunday’s race, but he is excited to see where Norris and Sainz end up at the end of the day.

“Quite a challenging Saturday today after a lack of time on track yesterday to test new parts,” said Seidl.  “The focus of the only free practice session this morning was on giving the drivers as many laps as possible to get used to driving an F1 car on this track for the first time.

“In parallel, we introduced further aerodynamic updates on Carlos’ car, but with the limited running we weren’t able to optimise them yet. Finding this next step in performance is what we are looking for at the moment.

“Qualifying went pretty much as planned, progressing through the sessions finishing in P8 and P10, which reflects where we are right now in terms of performance and puts us again in a good position to fight for points.

“With the lack of Friday practice, we didn’t do any long runs here at the Nürburgring which means we go a bit into the unknown tomorrow. Looking forward to another exciting race.”

Carlos Sainz Jr. will start the Eifel Grand Prix from tenth on the grid – Credit: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images/McLaren F1 Team
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