“Something we’ll discuss and review” — Norris on staying out and creating a tyre delta to Leclerc at F1 Japanese GP

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
Spread the love

Qualifying a brilliant third for the Japanese Grand Prix behind both Red Bull drivers, there were hopes for Lando Norris to secure a podium finish, given the track’s challenging nature for overtaking.

However, his prospects quickly faded during the race as both Ferraris demonstrated superior race pace and tyre management, pushing him back to fifth.

Speaking post-race, Norris acknowledged the anticipated drop in performance. The British driver had to push hard on the mediums early on, coming in at the end of lap 11.

“I was expecting that, to be honest with you. I don’t think the Ferrari race pace was anything incredible. I don’t think it’s as good as what Red Bull thought it was going to be or what they said yesterday.

“It all started in the beginning when you’re trying to push to keep up with a quicker car or push to stay ahead of the Ferraris, which were quicker. You hurt the tyres more, and it’s just kind of like a bit of a spiral.”

Reflecting on the race, Norris described how trying to keep pace with faster cars or fend off quicker Ferraris took a toll on his tyres, exacerbating the situation.

The 14-time podium finisher believes the fact he qualified P3 on Saturday distorted the reality of their true pace.

“We’re fighting a losing battle out there, so it’s not a bad day. I think we are where we kind of expected to be in the end, which is behind Ferrari. It’s where we’ve been all year, so it should be no different, and it was no different.

“I think yesterday we just excelled. We put in some very strong laps, and made us look maybe a bit too good. And today it was a bit more back to reality.”

Norris expressed discontent with McLaren’s decision to pit him early to counter George Russell’s undercut attempt, which resulted in him pitting on the same lap as Charles Leclerc who was on a one-stop strategy.

The 24-year-old had only done 15 laps on his hard tyres as he caught the Monegasque driver right before their stops — his third and final stint would consist of 27 laps on the hards.

They would both be overhauled by Sainz who went 10 laps longer in the middle stint for the two-stoppers.

“I think we did what was best at the time, but it’s always hard to know. Maybe we didn’t expect Charles to box? I’m not sure.

“He was close enough that you would kind of want to say, ‘Yeah, if we did something different, maybe we had a better chance’.

“I think we covered George, which I feel like we maybe didn’t need to do, and because we tried to cover George, we boxed at the same time as Charles.

“I for sure could have gone another five, six laps, created a tyre delta, and then come back through like Carlos did. So just an opinion, but it’s something we’ll discuss and review.”

Lando Norris, McLaren F1 Team, arrives in Parc Ferme after Qualifying Oscar Piastri, McLaren F1 Team, celebrates his 23rd birthday
Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

Despite the disappointment, Norris found solace in the gap to the Sainz on a day dominated by tyre degradation and management.

“I think I was only ten seconds behind Carlos, which felt a lot worse out there. But only ten seconds behind, I think it’s a good job by us. And it was 30 then to the win, which for as bad as it felt, I’d say isn’t as bad as it looked from my eyes. And I think may be tricky for everyone.

“It always is around here. The tyre deg is huge. I think we hoped for more, and maybe that was a bit of a false hope.

“And that’s why it feels a bit tougher. But I think if we started further back, we would have been happy with a P5.”

When asked if a one-stop strategy would’ve been beneficial for him, like it was for Leclerc, he commented: “He was slower than what Carlos was. So as an ideal strategy, no. But it was difficult to overtake. So when we are slower, it’s hard to say yes.

“We thought about it, but with our speed and with our disadvantage, we didn’t think it was the correct decision.”