Lando Norris of McLaren F1 Team has finished fifth in the first Sprint Qualifying session of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola. Despite not having the pace to match the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari cars; the Briton will line up for Sunday’s race in the ‘best of the rest’ position alongside his teammate.
Having started from third on the grid after an excellent qualifying session in tricky conditions on Friday, Norris challenged Max Verstappen on the run into turn two, but was unable to make a move around the outside stick. With the drivers behind him going three-wide through the corner, Norris was able to get a good exit from the first chicane complex and comfortably retain third place.
The 22-year old was running comfortably in third place until lap eleven, when he was passed by a much faster Sergio Pérez, and then being passed by Carlos Sainz Jr. on lap nineteen of twenty one. When talking about his fifth place finish, Norris claimed that fifth was as good as it was going to get.
“A tough Sprint! I just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the guys in front, but we got the best result we could today and a few points, so I’m happy.
“We’ve got a good position for the race tomorrow, we can fight for some more points from P5. There’s a few things to try to work on and figure out tonight, apart from that, I’m happy.”
Sprint Qualifying was a “‘go out and see what we got’ situation” for Daniel Ricciardo
In the other McLaren car, Daniel Ricciardo was able to hold on to the sixth place he achieved in qualifying on Friday in the Sprint race, despite not having any dry-running so far in the weekend.
The Australian, who also finished sixth in Australia, essentially used the Sprint as a way of testing his performance in the dry; being passed by both Pérez and Sainz, but overtaking Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen, with a wonderful move on the latter being praised by commentators.
Even though he was unable to make any ground in the race, Ricciardo is looking forward to Sunday’s race – though he cannot help but feel that he “had a bit more to show”:
“I didn’t really know what to expect for the Sprint because we haven’t really had dry running this weekend. With the issue in practice this morning, it was really just a ‘go out and see what we got’ situation. I felt like I had a good start, so I was looking ahead. I got Fernando early and was looking to get Kevin,” says Ricciardo.
“But by the time we got to the braking zone I ended up sandwiched between Kevin and Sergio [Perez] going into the braking zone and made we made contact. Luckily there was no damage.”
“I tried to settle into a rhythm, and I think we struggled a bit towards the end with the tyres but other than that it was pretty good and we scored some points. I think we had a bit more to show, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It should be good,” the McLaren driver concluded.
Overall, McLaren look like they have a lot of pace, and will certainly be looking to capitalise on Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team being lower down in the order than expected. With seven points on the board already this weekend, McLaren already have something to smile about heading into Sunday.