Norris had ‘flashbacks’ to maiden podium as he charged to P4 in Bahrain
Lando Norris found himself flashing back to his maiden podium at last year's season-opener as he sniffed a chance of a repeat in Bahrain when Valtteri Bottas encountered a problem at his pit stop – before he eventually crossing the line an impressive fourth for McLaren…
After qualifying sixth and seventh, Norris and new team mate Daniel Ricciardo converted that into fourth and seventh at the flag, confirming the pre-season hype that McLaren are the quickest third-quickest team.
Norris’ race was particularly punchy, the Briton pulling off cracking moves on Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly around the outside of Turn 4, before picking off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, too, to put him fourth.
Valtteri Bottas was a little way up the road in third, but there was a glimmer of hope a repeat of a season-opening podium (he finished third in Austria last year) might be on the cards when the Finn had a 10-second pit-stop with a sticky front tyre.
“Something happened with Bottas in his stop, I was hoping that was him out of the race to be honest!” he joked. “I don’t wish that upon anyone obviously but I thought for a minute something might be coming from it. Last year started to flash back a bit.
“But no, I’m very happy with P4. I think we had good pace to be honest. The car was nice, I was maintaining a good gap, but I also had to get past Daniel, past Pierre, past Charles, so it wasn’t easy.
“But I fought hard in the beginning, to try and get track position, and then I could maintain the tyres and keep them in good condition.”
McLaren sit third in the constructors’ championship on 18 points, 10 behind Red Bull and six clear of Ferrari. It’s early days, of course, but Norris is encouraged by the MCL35M’s potential.
“The Mercedes and Red Bulls were a little bit ahead, they pulled away a lot,” he said. “I had to pass the Ferraris cleanly on track, on pure pace. Pierre and Daniel I got around on the outside at Turn 4, my little overtakes, so the pace was good.
“It made it a bit easier I could have my own gap, and focus on myself - it made my life easier. We have got work to do, obviously, to keep pushing forward. It would have been nice starting from P4, then trying to get P4 let’s say. We have work to do but as far as first races go I think we can be very happy.”