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Norris shares McLaren hopes for Chinese Grand Prix after beating Ferrari in qualifying

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SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 20: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren walks in the paddock during

Lando Norris is hopeful that McLaren can have a “good day” at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after a solid qualifying session for the squad, with the Briton set to line up in P4 ahead of team mate Oscar Piastri in P5.

It had been a disappointing start to Saturday’s track action for Norris, as the Briton slipped backwards from pole in the Sprint owing to a first-lap error and ended the 100-kilometre race down in P6.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals pole position for Chinese Grand Prix as he heads Perez and Alonso

However, he appeared in much more positive spirits following his performance in qualifying later in the day, with both he and Piastri ending the session ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Asked how he felt after the session, Norris responded: “Good, to be honest. I think to be ahead of two Ferraris is always a positive thing, to be behind two Red Bulls is not a surprise at all. They’re clearly extremely strong, like they showed in the [Sprint] race today – Red Bull are in another league here.

“But I think [it was] a positive day for us in terms of pace. It buys us a bit of leeway on the Ferraris, but more than likely they’ll be overtaking us tomorrow. I think we’re in a good position, I think our battle will be with the Aston [Martin] and probably with the Mercedes at some point.

Norris believes McLaren can 'fight for some good points' in China

“We’ll see, but today I think was a good day. Even with what happened this morning, I think our pace was not bad comparing to Mercedes, comparing to Aston. We’re in a similar boat, just Red Bull are a mile ahead and Ferrari are another big chunk ahead of us. With everyone else I think we’re there or thereabouts, and [it] should be a good race.”

On whether McLaren could be in contention for a podium, Norris suggested that there was “no chance” of this, but spoke positively about how much more strongly his team had performed in Shanghai than they had previously expected ahead of the weekend.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from qualifying in China as Verstappen grabs pole and Sainz crashes

“The Red Bulls will probably lap everyone multiple times,” added Norris. “Ferrari I think will not be as quick as them, but they’ll be close or close enough. I think they’re out of our league, as soon as they had clean air this morning it was quite easy for them to pull away.

“So yeah, not expecting anything surprising. We said before the weekend we would struggle, I think we’ve done a better job than we thought in low-fuel, but definitely in high-fuel everything that we expect happens, and I think that’s why we struggled so much.

“I’m still looking forward to it, I think we can still have a good race, we can still fight for some good points and if we get lucky with some other things it can still be a good day.”

Piastri wary of ‘quick cars behind us’ after taking P5 on the grid in China

Both Norris and Piastri had looked fast in the closing stages of Q3 as several drivers battled over P2, a position that ultimately went to Perez. Reflecting on his own session, Piastri was left feeling positive overall.

“[It] felt pretty reasonable, decent qualifying session, definitely,” said the Australian. ”I think [there were] a couple of scruffy corners on the last lap, but all in all I think I can be pretty happy with that. So yeah, happier than I was this morning.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix

“I think we’ll wait and see what our pace is like tomorrow, but yeah, definitely a better place to be starting. [We’ve] got some quick cars behind us, so let’s see what we can do.”

Asked if the team had made many changes to the car after the Sprint – with new parc ferme rules allowing this prior to qualifying – Piastri explained: “A little bit. The thing is with these cars it’s pretty simple in what you want to do to make them go faster, and so there’s not that many things you can change that revolutionise the car from one session to the next, or at least for us anyway.

“We’ve made a few tweaks here and there, but nothing major. [I] think I drove a little bit better, I think we got the tyres in a good window and, yeah, decent session.”

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