RACE DEBRIEF

    Lando Norris navigated his way through the chaos of the Tuscan Grand Prix to finish P6 at the chequered flag, securing his eighth points finish in nine races this year. But for the McLaren driver, that was a result that surpassed all expectations, as he admitted his team still had “a lot of work to do” to get a handle on their current car.

    After crashing his MCL35 in Free Practice 2 at Mugello, Norris failed to make it into Q3 for the first time this season on Saturday. He was then lucky to avoid his spinning team mate Carlos Sainz on Lap 1 of the Grand Prix – while his strong race start meant that he was clear of the carnage at the infamous Lap 7 Safety Car restart that saw Sainz and three of his rivals eliminated.

    READ MORE: ‘It was pretty scary’ – Drivers involved give their thoughts on the huge restart crash in Mugello

    But having shown good pace when the Grand Prix was eventually restarted, the rest of the race was somewhat of a struggle for Norris, as he eventually came home sixth of 12 runners, behind the Racing Point of Sergio Perez that he’d passed earlier on in the afternoon.

    “I don’t think we had enough pace to really do much more,” said Norris after the Grand Prix. “I got past Perez because I felt like he was struggling a lot and we could get him, but then he did the undercut on me pretty much, and came out ahead – so even though I got him in the first stint, I don’t think in any other stint we had the pace really. I think I just managed to the tyres a little bit better in the first one, but the second third stint, they just had too much pace for me.

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    Norris felt powerless to get after Perez and Ricciardo ahead

    “We just stayed out of the crashes and the rubbish and we did a lot better then we were expecting. So as much as it was a long and tough race, I was very happy… We didn’t have the pace today, but I think we made the most of a pretty poor weekend, so hopefully the next one can be a little bit better.”

    READ MORE: Albon admits he had flashbacks to previous clashes as he completed decisive pass for maiden podium

    Norris confessed that McLaren’s lack of pace around Mugello – a track they had felt would suit their car – had left them puzzled, with the Briton having started the race P11, while Sainz could only manage P9, with Mercedes, Red Bull, Racing Point and Renault cars ahead of him.

    And despite the fact that McLaren’s MCL35 has notched up two podiums this year – most recently Sainz’s P2 at Monza a week before Mugello – Norris felt that there is plenty to do before the team to get a proper understanding of the car.

    “It was very difficult to drive,” said Norris. “The conditions were very similar to yesterday and weren’t suiting our car, so it was very difficult. We’ve got a lot of work to do with the car, even though some races we’ve been very fast, but it seems so sensitive to different conditions and different track surfaces and so on, and it makes our life a lot more difficult.

    Lando Norris thinks red flags made Tuscan GP 'very difficult'

    “We came here thinking we were going to be pretty quick, we had a lot of confidence and it went away pretty much straight away. We have to understand this car even more, even though we’ve had it for a while and had some good results. F1 cars are not easy to figure out, and from my side, the mechanics, the engineers all have to continue to push and do even better.”

    Despite Norris’ concerns, the Briton’s consistency this year means he sits fourth in the drivers’ standings, while McLaren are a moderately comfortable third in the constructors’, 14 points clear of Racing Point.

    2020

    Constructors' standings ahead of the Russian GP

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes 325
    2 Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing 173
    3 McLaren McLaren McLaren 106
    4 Racing Point Racing Point Racing Point 92
    5 Renault Renault Renault 83