Norris aiming to 'stay out of harm's way' in race after securing second straight top 5 start
Lando Norris will make his second top-five start in a week at the Austrian Grand Prix following yet another strong qualifying from the British rookie for the increasingly-impressive McLaren squad.
Norris ended the qualifying at the Red Bull Ring in a strong P6 for McLaren, just 0.027s shy of Kevin Magnussen’s impressive performance to go fifth for Haas. But P6 became P5 following Magnussen’s five-place grid drop for changing his gearbox before the session, meaning that Norris matches his best-ever starting position from Paul Ricard last time out. But according to the 19-year-old, he’d had to work hard for the achievement…
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“It wasn’t an easy quali, we still had to push,” said Norris. “I had to do a pretty decent lap, I thought, to get where I did. I was behind the Alfas after the first run of Q3, so I didn’t have the best banker lap, let’s say, but I managed to make a few improvements. We made a little tweak to the front wing and we managed to do a better lap come the important lap.
“[So a] good starting position, like last weekend… [and now] I want to stay out of harm’s way, get through the first few laps clean and try and build from there. Generally, our race pace has been strong and we can be confident going into tomorrow.”
We’re showing that the car is working well. That’s probably why it’s even more painful not to be able to extract the maximum out of it in a qualifying day
While Norris was enjoying the adulation, team mate Carlos Sainz admitted he’d had a “boring” Saturday, with the Spaniard having focused on race pace – and helping Norris out with a tow – knowing that he’d start Sunday’s Grand Prix at the back of the grid having taken new power unit elements, including Renault’s Spec B internal combustion engine.
“It’s been a really boring Saturday for me,” said the druver who finished a fine sixth in Paul Ricard a week ago. “Setting up the car for the race, not being able to use performance quali modes, and just waiting, waiting the whole weekend waiting for Sunday. But that’s how it is. We gave a tow to Lando which was the target. We made Lando to get into Q3 which was the target, and for me just chilled in the garage for the whole of Q2.
“We’re showing that the car is working well,” he added. “That’s probably why it’s even more painful not to be able to extract the maximum out of it in a qualifying day, but hopefully we can use the pace in it to come back. I think it’s still going to be very difficult to finish in the points – the field is still extremely tight, but we’re going to give it our best.”
Ahead of Sunday's race, McLaren sit a clear fourth place in the constructors’ standings, eight points ahead of their power unit suppliers Renault following their second double-points finish of the year in Paul Ricard.