After great start, Norris and Sainz lament McLaren's Mexico unravelling
McLaren had double-points in their sights in Mexico, as Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris started on the fourth row of the grid - but nobody would have predicted the race finishing with Norris retiring after a botched pit stop and Sainz in P13.
It was a shock result for the team, particularly as both drivers were ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas by the end of the first lap, during which Sainz had also found a way past Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Then things unravelled, as they can cruelly do in Formula 1, as Norris was released from a pit stop with a loose wheel, and Sainz found the hard tyres unmanageable after he pitted on lap 15. He switched to mediums on lap 35 - but by that time he’d lost so much ground.
“That was pretty much it,” said Norris after the race. “It started pretty well [for] both Carlos and myself – I got past two cars and I think Carlos got past three of them.
“Everything was looking pretty hopeful, but I had the pit stop, had the problem – cross threaded [wheel nut] or something – and that was pretty much the race done. A few positives, some big negatives, but things to work on for next time,” he added.
“I think very quickly you just become a bit deflated and just frustrated with everything but it happens. Normally the team have done a good job with pit stops and everything so I don’t want to complain about them, but they let us down today in terms of a few problems which could have cost us some good points."
Fortunately for the team, they escaped punishment for an unsafe release. And the positive for Sainz was that they started with another rapid launch off the line.
“It was a good start, another one, it’s been a few now that we keep fighting the top guys – but unfortunately today we didn’t have the pace to hold them off or play with them.”
However, Sainz’s comments post-race focused on the disappointment of finishing 13th after starting seventh.
“It’s been a very frustrating afternoon because I kept fighting through the whole race but unfortunately after such a great start and managing pretty well the soft tyre and managing to get into lap 15, 16, which was the target, I realised we had no rear grip on the hard and I started going backwards,” he explained.
“Every overtake they did to me was a step in the wrong direction on that tyre. So we lost pretty much the race in that stint,” was Sainz’s summation.
The lack of points in Mexico meant that McLaren lost a chance to cement fourth in the constructors’ standings, with rivals Renault seeing Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finish eighth and 10th respectively.