Norris says late set-up changes key as he takes impressive P2 in Friday practice at COTA
Lando Norris was an impressive second fastest in Friday afternoon practice for this weekend's United States Grand Prix, and says the tyre degradation on the Circuit of The Americas track will make for a fascinating race on Sunday.
The McLaren driver – who came so close to taking his maiden victory back in Russia – was eighth-quickest in FP1, but finished FP2 right up in second place on the time sheets. And he credited some late set-up changes for his speed.
"It was a good day in terms of result and pace, but not easy to achieve that," he said. "Difficult just because of the wind and the bumps and the conditions – it just makes it very tricky out there.
"And even with the set-up – the first couple of runs I struggled quite a bit but then the final run we made some changes and I was much happier with the car and could push it more and then the lap time came easier.
"So I think we’re in a good place because I feel like we can quite easily make some changes tomorrow to give myself more confidence, and confidence is lap time, a lot of the time. So decent first day, and look forward to the rest."
And as for his long run pace – and the prospects for Sunday's race – Norris reckons it will be all about who can best keep their tyres working well, especially after he flat-spotted a set of his own Pirellis during the session - branding himself "an idiot" for doing so.
"[It's] tough because there is just a lot of degradation and you can still be fast but with a lot of degradation because everyone’s struggling with a similar thing just because of the temperature and the track surface and so on.
"But I also made it tricky because I ran the tyres which I flat-spotted, which makes it feel a lot worse.
"You want to do the same lap times all the time and when you just see it slowly ‘degging’ off it doesn’t feel good but sometimes that’s just the way it is, so it’s interesting and probably going to make for a good race on Sunday: who can keep the tyres in a good condition?"
Norris' team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was 16th in FP1 but up to P5 in FP2, echoed his thoughts about the grip and track surface.
"Everyone was – I wouldn’t say struggling – but fighting the car, you know it was hot, the grip was pretty low, the tyres dropped off quite a lot after a lap. And of course, we know like the track is quite bumpy, it throws you around so it was quite challenging.
"All that being said, it was also quite fun. The aim this weekend is to struggle less than everyone else and then we’ll be in a good position. Today both of is us top five so it was solid."