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'Good pit stop practice for the mechanics' jokes Norris after being forced to pit six times with power unit issue in Bahrain

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 05: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes

Lando Norris was able to see the funny side of his Bahrain Grand Prix, after he was forced to pit six times on Sunday as McLaren managed a “pneumatic pressure leak” on his car, with the British driver finishing last of the classified runners.

Norris started the race from 11th on the grid, but a quick start saw him leapfrog rivals Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg to get up to ninth by Turn 1, before being overtaken by the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas on the run down to Turn 4.

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However, Norris’s evening began to get worse after his first pit stop, as he contended with a power unit issue that forced him to come back into the pit lane, on average, every 10 laps, leaving him running at the back of the field for most of the race.

When quizzed on his feelings after the Grand Prix, Norris said: “A very tough race. We had a few issues we had to manage the whole race which is the reason we had to keep coming into the pits every few laps.

“[That] really took us out of the race, but we tried to stay in it for as long as possible, just in case there was a Safety Car or something and we might have had a chance at the end.”

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Norris jokes his race was ‘good pit stop practice for the mechanics’ after stopping SIX times in Bahrain

Norris and McLaren had to contend with a few reliability issues in pre-season testing that hampered their running, with the Woking-based squad only completing 311 laps – the least of all 10 teams – the week before at the same Sakhir venue.

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Subsequently, Norris was then asked whether he and the team had learned anything new about the car during the race, to which he replied: “Little bits and bobs. I think the main things was good pit stop practice for the mechanics! That was about it.

“I think the pace was alright otherwise. Just too many issues today to fight for points, so we’ll go again next time.”

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Norris ran a lonely race at the back of the field for much of the evening

With new rookie team mate Oscar Piastri retiring early in his debut race with an electrical issue, McLaren’s Team Principal Andrea Stella reflected afterwards on what had been a tough race for his team, but maintained belief that a top-10 finish was very much on the cards for both drivers if not for their reliability problems.

“It’s not the start of the season for which we were hoping. Points were certainly possible today, the cars had competitive pace in race stints, and Lando particularly was in a strong position,” said the former Ferrari Race Engineer.

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“Unfortunately, we were hit by two reliability issues. Oscar had to retire with what appears to be an electrical problem which we are investigating. Lando, meanwhile, had a pneumatic pressure leak on the power unit side.

“It required him to pit every 10 laps to recharge the system. We leave Bahrain knowing we have work to do, but the season is long. We’ll regroup and will be ready to go again in Saudi Arabia.”

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