McLaren duo left ‘frustrated’ in Austin despite double-points finish
McLaren took another step closer towards sealing P4 in the constructors' championship in the United States Grand Prix with a double-points finish. But Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were left wanting after Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo ended up ahead of both of them in P6.
Norris, who turns 20 before the next round in Brazil, committed to a two-stop strategy in Austin – pitting on Lap 19 for hard tyres and Lap 42 for mediums – before McLaren allowed him to overtake team mate Sainz at the end of the race, in order to let him get after race-long sparring partner Ricciardo.
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Ultimately, Norris came up just 0.398s short of his target at the line, as he settled for seventh, one place up from Sainz. That left the Briton understandably “frustrated” at the race end – although he admitted that Renault’s strong Sunday pace hadn’t come as a complete surprise.
“I’m a bit frustrated that it was Daniel [Ricciardo] who was ahead of me,” said Norris, “as [Renault are] the guys we want to be trying to beat.
“Today I think we were kind of expecting them to be a bit faster, the Renaults, and especially Daniel who was closest to us – which he was showing – but we almost got him with the alternative strategy and the two-stop.”
A late yellow flag – caused by Kevin Magnussen retiring his Haas on the Turn 12 run-off area – hampered Norris’s chances of passing Ricciardo further.
“One more corner, I could have had him,” said Norris. “If there wasn’t the yellow flags I probably would have given it a shot.”
Norris did concede, however, that this had been a much smoother race for McLaren, as the team secured their first double-points finish since the Russian GP – where Norris himself last scored points.
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“I’m happy. Good points for us. A race where I didn’t have unlucky moments and problems. It was nice to have a race where I could focus on my driving and do a good job,” he said.
Sainz, on the other hand, started his race with a bang, a collision with Alex Albon at Turn 1 sending the Thai driver's Red Bull briefly airborne. Sainz was content with a recovery to P8 at the flag, having completed a one-stop strategy, swapping softs for hards on Lap 18.
“It is what it is,” was his post-race conclusion. “You risk [an incident] in every start. I tried to recover positions like I always do. Some days it’s going to work, some days it will not and today was one of those days it did not pan out.
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“At the same time, I recovered nicely from there, had a tough first stint behind the Toro Rosso [of Pierre Gasly], then I managed my hard tyres to attack Lando at the end. But the team had committed him to a two-stop, [so to swap positions] was the right thing to do.”
A sixth double-points finish of the season has now given McLaren a grasp of fourth in the constructors’ championship, with a 38-point advantage to their improving rivals Renault with two races left to run.