McLaren “maybe missed out a little bit on opportunity to be P2” — Norris on P3 finish in F1 Australian GP

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
Spread the love

Lando Norris reflected on a tactical misstep at the Australian Grand Prix that, in his view, cost him and McLaren a higher place on the podium. The use of the undercut emerged as the pivot around which fortunes turned in Melbourne, with Norris pinpointing this aspect as the crux of his failure to secure second place.

Initially positioned ahead of Charles Leclerc in P2 with Max Verstappen out of the race, Norris found himself at a disadvantage following the first series of pit stops. Leclerc, along with Norris’s teammate Oscar Piastri, managed to leap ahead by pitting earlier, a manoeuvre that enabled them to exploit the advantage of fresher tyres. This crucial phase of the race saw Norris relegated behind Leclerc, compelling McLaren to facilitate a position swap with Piastri, who was trailing in pace and tyre management, thereby freeing Norris to mount a challenge against the Ferrari driver.

As Norris whittled down the gap to Leclerc to less than 1.5s, Ferrari preemptively called Leclerc into the pits for his second stop on lap 34, a move that effectively neutralised the threat from Norris by granting Leclerc the tyre life needed to re-establish and extend his lead. Despite a valiant effort to close the distance once again, Norris ultimately ran out of laps, cementing his position in third place.

Reflecting on the dynamics of the race, Norris conveyed a sense of what might have been, had the team capitalised on their pace advantage over Leclerc. “I think our pace has been good all weekend,” he stated, acknowledging the team’s competitive performance throughout the event. “Being honest, we maybe missed out a little bit on an opportunity to be P2 today. For us to say that, it’s a good sign and I think it’s a good positive for the whole team, a good boost.”

The defining moment came when McLaren anticipated executing an undercut against Leclerc, only for the Monegasque to pit on the same lap McLaren had targeted for their strategic move. This decision forced Norris to extend his stint, attempting to create a tyre differential that never fully materialised into a tangible advantage due to Leclerc’s superior track position and pace.

“We didn’t leave anything on the table, but the lap we were going to undercut, he boxed,” Norris detailed, underscoring the razor-thin margins and split-second decisions that characterise Formula 1 strategy. “I think we still did a very good job today. Third and fourth for us as a team is positive and a good load of points, but [Ferrari was] clearly the better team, and they have a better car at the minute.”

McLaren’s first podium of 2024 has moved them 29 points clear of Mercedes in the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship at present.