McLaren: Norris “needs to find the right balance” after constant self-criticism at F1 Qatar GP

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The Qatar Grand Prix turned out to be a challenging weekend for many on the grid, as they dealt with scorching temperatures, tyre degradation and frequent track limit violations. Amid these difficulties, McLaren managed to excel, with their rookie driver, Oscar Piastri, achieving his first win in Saturday’s Sprint race. The team also secured a double podium finish and even broke a new world record for the fastest pit stop during the Grand Prix.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for McLaren. Lando Norris, despite earning a spot on the podium alongside his teammate, couldn’t hide his disappointment throughout the weekend. His frustrations began in Friday’s qualifying session when his best lap time was invalidated due to track limit violations, ultimately demoting him to P10 on the starting grid. Matters took a further turn for the worse when Norris ran wide on the final corner of his lap during Saturday’s qualifying session, causing him to miss out on a potential pole position.

In the heat of the moment, Norris expressed his frustration on Friday over team radio, admitting,

“I’m just so stupid! I should be on pole. I just f*** it up too much. I’m sorry, it’s on me.”

The challenges continued into the Sprint race, where Norris lost four positions in the first two corners before recovering to P3. When asked about his ongoing frustrations during a press conference, he reflected on it.

“With myself, I don’t think I’ve ever been more frustrated… I should have been on pole today. I should have at least had a good chance to go for it yesterday against Max, but I just made too many mistakes which have just cost me.”

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

McLaren’s Team Principal, Andrea Stella, was questioned about Norris being his own harshest critic. He remarked that it’s important for the Brit to find a balance.

“Lando is such an honest person and I think he perpetuates this honesty in every kind of relationship, including the one with himself. I think he wants to make sure that if he gets it wrong then he gets it from the honesty point of view. He doesn’t want to look arrogant.

“At the same time, like I said before about champions, you need to find the right balance and you need to find the right dynamics in terms of communication to the world and in terms of communication to yourself.”

In the world of Formula 1, the stakes are exceptionally high and the pressure to meet fan expectations, team standards and personal goals is immense. Stella pointed out that Norris is still in the process of “calibrating” his true aspirations—whether to be the fastest or to be the best driver—a choice that doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Stella emphasised that there will be a journey ahead for Norris, one that he will take alongside Piastri and one that each member of the McLaren team will navigate as well.