RACE DEBRIEF

    After qualifying seventh and finishing sixth in the final race of the season, McLaren driver Lando Norris said his team had “ended on a high” in Abu Dhabi.

    Norris was set to finish a comfortable seventh ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in Abu Dhabi before Lewis Hamilton’s late retirement promoted the McLaren driver – who finished seventh in the drivers’ standings – to P6 at the chequered flag at Yas Marina Circuit, as out-going team mate Daniel Ricciardo claimed P9.

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    “P6, good points, Daniel in the points as well so we’ve ended on a high, we’ve ended in a position that gives the whole team some energy and some motivation for next year and we need some of that so yeah, perfect weekend to end the season on,” said Norris.

    “I’m very pleased with what we did today, we achieved everything we wanted to, just, Esteban [Ocon] was close to getting me, we just had massive tyre degradation on the medium,” he added.

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    Norris finished sixth for the fourth time this season

    Despite McLaren outscoring Alpine by five points in Abu Dhabi – where Fernando Alonso retired in his final race for his squad – the Woking team still finished fifth in the championship, one place lower than they managed in 2021.

    But despite that, from a personal standpoint, Norris said that he had “absolutely” improved as a driver in 2022 – Norris ending up 30 points clear of anyone else in P7 in the drivers’ standings, having been the only racer outside of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to have taken a podium this season.

    “It’s difficult because it doesn’t look like that in any way, it doesn’t look like I’ve done a better job necessarily, but I absolutely have,” he asserted.

    “From… definitely being the biggest critic of myself out there, I’ve done a good job and a bad job and I know what I’m capable of doing; and weekends like this one and throughout the year, I know I’ve done a much better job than I did last year.

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    “It just doesn’t show it, because we’ve not had the car and not had the opportunities to show it so I’ll continue as is, I’ll try and improve further, and hopefully next year we can show the progress we made as a team this year.”

    Oscar Piastri joins McLaren and will race alongside Norris in 2023, as Ricciardo leaves the squad, having been outscored 122 points to 37 by the Briton across the year.