RACE DEBRIEF

    Lando Norris could not hide his frustration after Saturday’s qualifying session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the McLaren driver believing that a mistake during Q3 potentially cost him pole position.

    Norris was improving on his final lap – having gone fastest of all in the first sector – when he endured a wild moment through Turns 13 and 14 that destabilised the car, allowing several rivals to slip ahead as he dropped from P2 to P5.

    READ MORE: Verstappen beats Leclerc to Abu Dhabi GP pole as Hamilton and Sainz endure early exits

    “The car was very good out there, I was on a lap quick enough to go P1, but I didn’t do it, so it’s another Saturday that I’ve just thrown away,” Norris told Sky Sports after qualifying, referring to mistakes earlier in the season. “I’m disappointed.”

    Expanding on the error, he said: “I don’t know what happened. A little bit of the car ahead… I’m not going to blame him for getting in my way, it’s just unfortunate I caught a car there.

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    Norris hit trouble in the stadium section toward the end of the lap at Yas Marina

    “It makes the tiniest difference but we’re close enough on the limit on the final quali lap that the tiniest difference can upset the car completely. It’s a shame, because it should have been very different, so I’m disappointed with myself.

    “Again, shoulda, woulda, coulda stuff from me,” he added, when pushed if pole was on the cards. “It’s a shame. I was what, three-tenths up, and threw it all away.”

    READ MORE: Verstappen thrilled with Yas Marina pole on ‘very weird’ weekend for Red Bull

    Norris’s team mate, Oscar Piastri, was one of the drivers to benefit from the situation as he took third, behind pole-sitting Red Bull man Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

    The Australian was investigated post-session over an alleged impeding incident involving the Alpine of Pierre Gasly, who ended qualifying in 10th place, but the stewards ultimately took no further action.

    Qualifying Highlights: 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    After a difficult run last time out in Las Vegas, Piastri said: “It’s been a much better weekend in terms of pace as a team, but I’ve been struggling to just get laps together. Even on my side the pace has been good, just I’ve been making big mistakes in every lap.

    “To have cleaned it up mostly [going] into qualifying was nice – [there were] still a couple of small things to adjust and tweak, but I think everyone can say the same.”

    AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    As for his chances on race day, he signed off: “I think we can fight for a podium, definitely. Nobody knows what the race pace is like, so hopefully we can be strong.”

    McLaren head into Sunday’s race looking to secure fourth position in the constructors’ standings, with the Woking outfit currently leading rivals Aston Martin – who start seventh and 13th with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll respectively – by 11 points.