Norris explains shock Q1 exit from Mexico qualifying as he sets target from back of grid
Lando Norris has explained how an issue followed by an ill-timed yellow flag led to his shock elimination from Q1 of qualifying for the Mexico City Grand Prix, leaving him to start the race towards the back of the grid.
The McLaren man had looked strong heading into the session, having been the closest driver to the pace-setting Max Verstappen during Friday practice. However, things went wrong for Norris in what proved to be a dramatic qualifying as he finished P19. He is set to start the race from P18 due to Yuki Tsunoda's back-of-the-grid start.
When asked what had happened after things didn’t go his way in the session, Norris explained: “I locked up, I went off on my one lap. We had one problem on the first run, and then the yellow flag from Fernando [Alonso’s spin] on the final runs, so it was a shame, but my one opportunity that I needed to put a lap in I locked up and I went off.”
Quizzed further on whether he was happy with the call to use the medium tyre in retrospect, the Briton added: “Yep, fine.”
Despite his starting position, Norris is confident that the car still has the pace to move forwards in Sunday’s race, with team mate Oscar Piastri having qualified in P7.
“I mean, it’s difficult to go backwards, I’ll be worried if I go backwards tomorrow,” he admitted. “The pace is good, Oscar’s doing a good job. I probably should have gone P1 if I put my lap in before, but there’s a lot of ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ for me at the minute. Yeah, a shame, but points will be our target so we’ll see what we can do.”
While Piastri achieved a top-10 result during what is his first visit to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the Australian was left frustrated after feeling that his performance slightly dropped off in the final segment of qualifying.
“I think the pace before Q3 was strong,” he said following the session. “It just didn’t really come together in Q3 and I don’t really know why. I think that’s probably the most frustrating part at the moment.
"We’ll have a look and see what I could have done differently, whether we should have done something with the car, but yeah, just didn’t seem to find the step in pace that everyone else did.”
Piastri finds himself sandwiched between the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in P6 and P8 respectively, and he expects a tough challenge ahead in the Grand Prix.
“To be honest, I think a lot of the cars around us [are our threats],” the 22-year-old concluded. “I think they’re all going to be quick around us, so it’s going to be difficult to overtake, but we’ll try our best.”