Norris enjoys ‘best ever’ stint as he climbs from P17 on the grid to fifth in Mexico
Lando Norris made up for a disappointing qualifying in incredible style as a series of searing overtakes catapulted him up to fifth in Mexico.
He bravely opted for the unfancied soft tyres for the start and put those to good use to climb through the field. But his race was initially made after an early pit stop for the hard compound saw the Briton extract incredible pace from his MCL60 as he made it all the way into the top 10.
Starting from that slot at the restart on the mediums, it looked like it had all unravelled for Norris as he dropped down to 14th – replays showing the McLaren man had had some wheelspin off the line. But from there he was not to be stopped, overtaking a string of cars to climb all the way to fifth place at the flag.
“I had to avoid potentially causing a very, very big crash so I just stayed out of trouble and sacrificed four, five positions in the beginning,” he said of his restart woes.
“I then got comfortable, got in a good rhythm, got the tyres in a good window and could push and then had one of the best stints I’ve probably had ever, from 14th to fifth. Pace was amazing, very enjoyable, good overtakes, hard racing. It was good fun.”
One of the best moves he pulled off was on his former team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who himself was having an excellent race for AlphaTauri. Norris forced his way around the outside of Turn 4, the two going side by side and both braking as late as they dared. Ricciardo was hard but fair, with Norris putting all his trust in the Australian not to run him off track.
Such was his pace, everyone was wondering what he could have done had he started in the mix towards the front – and he had clearly been thinking about that himself.
“I would have finished on the podium,” he said. “I said it yesterday, shoulda woulda coulda. I accept it, I know I need to put things together, just those final few pieces of the jigsaw to put together and then I’ll be very confident.”
While the wait for a first win continues for Norris, that confidence he is drawing from such performances is growing. As soon as he gets everything together and executes the perfect weekend, he will clearly be a force to be reckoned with.
McLaren did execute team orders in Mexico, letting Norris past his team mate in order to chase down Ricciardo and George Russell, with Oscar Piastri carrying damage sustained in two separate incidents with Yuki Tsunoda.
“I wasn’t expecting [Tsunoda] to go right like that in the braking zone, and yeah, anyway, I was okay,” said Piastri afterwards, on a day where he struggled for pace compared to his team mate.
“Quite a lot of battling, which I’m sure didn’t help but just struggled for pace. A bit of damage on the car towards the end as well but yeah just something to look into.”
Piastri did at least come home in the points, which was an improvement on Austin last weekend where he failed to score. But he’ll want to quickly find some answers as to where his pace has gone, with the next race already looming.