‘We should have outscored Ferrari’ says Norris, after late tyre issue costs him P4 in Qatar
Lando Norris came away from the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix believing that a P4 finish could have been his, had a late puncture not forced him into a second pit stop of the night – leaving the Briton a disappointed P9 at the flag.
Starting P4 following grid penalties for Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, Norris had the pace in his McLaren MCL35M to be able to mix it towards the front of the pack for much of the race, and seemed set to ape eventual podium finisher Fernando Alonso’s one-stop strategy when he was brought in for a stop on Lap 49 of 57.
That took him out of fourth place, with Norris confirming after the race that a puncture had been detected that had forced the stop – with Bottas, George Russell and Nicholas Latifi having all suffered with tyre issues in the race as well.
“It was a puncture,” said Norris, “I heard quite a few people punctured so there was an obvious problem going round. But nothing we can do. I think the team did a pretty good job, we could have done much better. I think we deserved a lot more today, we could have been P4 today at least without the puncture. Could have had some good points and a nice result but we didn’t, not because of our fault… It’s the way it is.”
Norris at least enjoyed a battling recovery after his enforced second stop, passing Sebastian Vettel three laps from the end to claim P9.
But on a day when McLaren wanted to outscore rivals Ferrari to try and haul themselves back into contention in the fight for P3 in the constructors’ championship, Norris admitted he couldn’t be happy, after the Scuderia took 10 points to Norris and McLaren’s two – with team mate Daniel Ricciardo failing to score for a third consecutive race as he came home 12th following a fuel issue.
“I still had some fun,” said Norris, “and actually because of it, it probably made my race a bit more exciting, but I don’t really care. I’d prefer a P4 over a P9 no matter what. It sucks but nothing I can do so, good job by the team, I’m happy with the job I did today, but it got taken away from us.
“We should have out-scored Ferrari and closed the gap a little bit,” added Norris, with the gap between the two teams now 39.5 points. “It was nice to have a stronger race again as the last few weekends have been tough – [well it’s still] tough now but nice to get a bit more rhythm and know we still have the pace to get good results.”
McLaren lost more ground to Ferrari in Qatar