‘I screwed everything up' – Norris blames his first proper mistake of 2020 for P13 finish
A botched start for Lando Norris in the Hungarian Grand Prix ruined the Briton’s chances of a points finish, as he fell from eighth to 14th by the time he reached Turn 2 – a glitch the 20-year-old called his “first proper mistake” of the season.
On a weekend where McLaren hadn’t been able to match their searing Red Bull Ring pace – which saw Norris star in both the Austrian Grand Prix, where he claimed his maiden F1 podium, and the Styrian Grand Prix, where he surged from P8 to P5 in the final two laps – the 20-year-old had managed to outqualify team mate Carlos Sainz on Saturday.
But some over-eagerness with the loud pedal in the greasy race start conditions saw him plummet down the order to P14 by the time the pack reached Turn 2, while McLaren’s decision to keep Norris out for an extra lap on his intermediate tyres as the majority of the pack pitted early in the race for slicks left him P18 – and with a long race ahead of him to recover to 13th by the flag.
“I lost out at the start,” said Norris. “The team did a good job… but I was the one who let down the team, in terms of probably getting the worst start I ever got in my life. Why was that? Because I just wanted to go forward, and when you try and go forward in the wet, you go backwards. It’s as simple as that.
"I got a bit eager with the [throttle] pedal and I just screwed everything up. It’s such a difficult track to overtake on I couldn’t do anything more after that. I tried coming back but P13 was the best I could do.”
Sainz had a better time of it, with a late-race pass on the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc giving the Spaniard the final points-paying position – although having aced his own getaway, Sainz felt that P10 was a scant reward for his efforts, after he was hampered in the pit stops.
“I think a point is not what we wanted, especially after such a strong start,” said Sainz. “We were up to P8, P7 something like that, and we missed out again in the pit stop. We had a very slow release from the box, not down to the fault of our team, just a lot of traffic in the pit lane and we lost a lot of positions there, and we had to recover back to the points.
“But still the balance was not ideal in the race, the balance hasn’t been ideal the whole weekend and it’s just a matter of now analysing it and seeing where we can come back stronger in Silverstone.”
Despite Norris’ disappointment, meanwhile, the Briton – who made up for his mistake by helping his mechanics to strip his car after the race – still sits fourth in the drivers’ standings after the season-opening triple header. And Norris felt he could look back on a “very positive” start to his 2020.
“If I look at the big picture, I think they’ve been still a very positive three weeks,” he said. “The things I really wanted to improve on as a driver I’ve done much better at, but I’m still not the driver I need to be. I still made the mistake today, which probably didn’t cost me a huge amount of points – I would have been probably where Carlos was and scored one or two at most – so not the end of the world.
“But I think in the long run, you want to be scoring whenever you have the opportunity to, and I think today we did have the opportunity to get those one or two [points], which could prove quite costly come the end of the season.
“So it’s just probably the finer details. I mean, the start’s not 'finer details', it’s a pretty big thing, but the first two races were perfect, this one is the first one I made a proper mistake on, and a big error so I’m just going to work on those things, we’ll review everything from the past few weeks and try and do a better job in Silverstone.”
Drivers' standings after the Hungarian Grand Prix
|1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
|2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
|3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing
|4 Lando Norris McLaren
|5 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing