McLaren pace was 'quite poor' against midfield rivals, says Norris
Having qualified inside the top 10, Lando Norris saw a dream result in his first home Grand Prix slip away at Silverstone on Sunday - and the rookie feels it was as much a strategic error as bad luck that proved costly.
Norris was impressive in qualifying but ended up eighth on the grid, just behind Daniel Ricciardo. After passing the Renault and holding him off for the first stint of the race, things were looking promising for the 19-year-old but as he had already stopped before the Safety Car was deployed, McLaren opted against a second pit stop at that point and a later stop dropped him out of the points, finishing 11th.
“The strategy [was the catalyst], simple as that, we made the wrong decision under the Safety Car,” Norris said. “We didn’t box when we should have done. Not gambling, but hoping a few more people would drop off at the end like Alex [Albon] did, but it didn’t happen.
“Yeah, just in hindsight the strategy was the wrong thing but it’s not something we could have known as easily when we made the decision.”
Although Norris was still able to reflect on “a good few” positives from his first weekend as an F1 driver at Silverstone, he has slight concerns over the pace Renault were able to show following races in Austria and France where McLaren were outright fourth quickest.
“The opening lap was good, the start was good, but our pace was quite poor I thought compared to Renault. They could follow pretty closely around the whole track and not be that badly affected. So the pace was much better from the Renaults. That means we’ve got a lot of work to do, they had the quicker car and obviously we want to be quicker than them. We’ll go back, analyse everything and make sure we come back stronger.”
Light contact with Pierre Gasly on the opening lap compromised Norris to some extent but McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the biggest issue was the ability of other drivers to make their tyres last in the second half of the race.
“With all the data we had from the tyres that came off the cars, we thought there was a high risk to run out of tyres at the end of the race and in the end we wanted to try and get on the new hards - fresh ones - and then get the competition towards the end of the race,” Seidl said after Norris finished within two seconds of the points. “It looks like it would have needed five more laps.
“He had small damage also on his car which didn’t help on the aero side of the floor, but in the end for Lando it didn’t work out because the tyre degradation of all the others was not as extreme as we had anticipated."