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McLaren 'easily good enough for front row' in Bahrain says disappointed Norris

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 01: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren walks in the Paddock prior

McLaren's Lando Norris had to resign himself to a P7 start for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix – a frustrating state of affairs for the Briton, who believed he had the pace to join pole-sitter Max Verstappen on the front row.

McLaren had sufficient pace in the new-for-2024 MCL38 for both Norris and team mate Oscar Piastri to breeze through to Q3 on Friday night at the Bahrain International Circuit.

READ MORE: Verstappen beats Leclerc and Russell to pole for season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix

But a lairy moment from Norris on his final Q3 lap cost him what he believed was "easily" a shot at the front row.

‘The car was easily good enough for a front row’ – Norris laments driver errors on final Q3 run

Asked if he’d got everything out of qualifying, Norris replied: “Absolutely not… I messed up Sector 1. I just had a little oversteer on the exit of [Turn] 1 just as I came on the throttle. It cost me easily one and a half tenths, and one and a half tenths today was easily P2.

“It’s frustrating and because of this I felt like I wanted to push a bit more – the wrong thing to do and then I paid the price again in Turn 4, another couple of mistakes. The rest of the lap was there or thereabouts, but honestly the car was easily good enough for a front row, so disappointed I didn’t deliver it.

FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen ties two greats of the sport as Alpine prop up the field for the first time in years

“But the team have done a great job, the car is feeling amazing so I’m happy with that; things have come together over the weekend, I just didn’t deliver, so a bit of a shame but I’ll try and make up for it tomorrow.”

Piastri looking for answers after ‘tricky session’ in Bahrain

Joining Norris on the fourth row of the grid will be team mate Piastri, who made his Grand Prix debut at this track 12 months ago – and admitted that McLaren were at least in better shape than they were here back then, when the Australian failed to make it out of Q1.

“A tricky session definitely,” said Piastri. “I think for myself, I struggled pretty much the whole way through; the car was just not feeling the same as it did yesterday night, so I have to look into why.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from qualifying in Bahrain as Verstappen clinches pole

“It’s close, very close. I think we’re in the mix roughly but it seems it’s very tight between everyone… I don’t think Red Bull is quite as quick as everyone first feared, so hopefully that sets up an interesting year. We are certainly a bit happier than we were 12 months ago here. A bit of a tricky session but we’ll see what we can do."

Both McLaren drivers will be looking to make their way up the order in Saturday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with cars from Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin all starting ahead.

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