Lando Norris admits the McLaren F1 Team will be happy with their performance during Qualifying for the São Paulo Grand Prix on Friday, particularly on the back of their poor showing in free practice earlier in the day.
The British racer was down in fifteenth position in free practice, well off the pace and well behind the expectations McLaren has in 2021. However, they improved the car ahead of Qualifying, and he was able to break into the top ten, eventually qualifying eighth fastest.
Norris says that although both he and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo are behind both Scuderia Ferrari drivers, they are right behind both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc and will be looking to get ahead of them across the rest of the weekend.
“I think we have to be happy with qualifying, because we were struggling quite a bit this morning in FP1,” said Norris. “After making some good improvements coming into quali, I felt a lot more confident with the car.
“We would’ve loved to have been ahead of the Ferraris, but we have to take P8 and P9 today because they were quicker. We’re in a good position to fight them tomorrow.”
“From where we were this morning we can be happy with that” – Daniel Ricciardo
Team-mate Ricciardo was in agreement with Norris, with the Australian happy to make it into Q3 after struggling in practice earlier in the day.
Ricciardo will start ninth having qualified only 0.059 seconds behind his team-mate, but the deficit to their main rivals was smaller than the Australian was expecting and it leaves McLaren in a good place to attack Ferrari during Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying race and Sunday’s feature race in Brazil.
“It’s only an eighth and ninth but from where we were this morning we can be happy with that,” said Ricciardo. “We didn’t run the Soft earlier, but I felt like we didn’t have a whole lot of pace to show either.
“It felt better on the Soft and to get both cars in Q3 is not a bad afternoon. I know it’s towards the tail-end of the top ten, but the deficit is a lot smaller than we thought.
“We’ve still got to get them on track but we’re there, we’re in the fight, and we can put some pressure on them now. We’ll look to move up from here but the step we made from this morning to this evening was pretty good.”