Lando Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2019

“Today wasn’t a one-off” says Norris after qualifying eighth on debut

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says his shock eighth on the grid on his F1 debut won’t be a one-off but will take hard work to repeat.

The McLaren driver placed 18th in all three practice sessions before qualifying, and said he had no expectation he would be able to reach Q3.

“I used three sets of softs in Q1, our aims was just to try and get into Q2. And that went pretty well.

“And then I did my Q2 lap and I got into Q3. And so I finished eighth in Q3.”

Norris admitted he was “so nervous” during his first qualifying session but said the result is “massive” for McLaren. The team have taken their best starting position since Fernando Alonso’s seventh on the grid in Monaco last year.

[mpuzweeler01]”I think it’s massive to see that it is possible to do it and we have in some ways moved forwards from last year. Not as much as we need to. I feel like I really maximised everything, not completely, but to an extent.

“I’ve got a long race ahead of me tomorrow,” he added. “We do need to do a lot of work to maintain these Q3s. Today wasn’t a one-off but it’s not going to happen all the time so I need to make sure I treasure this.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 47 comments on ““Today wasn’t a one-off” says Norris after qualifying eighth on debut”

    1. Great performance but he needs to back it up with some points. Even 10th would be a good achievement, but if there’s attrition up front he should hope for a little more.

    2. Strike one to sainz..

      1. Sainz’s lap has been compromised by Kubica, otherwise he would probably get out of Q1, too. A solid session from McLaren, by all means.

        1. Howden Ganley
          16th March 2019, 10:03

          That’s true, and it seems journalists didn’t notice! Anyway, good news for McLaren, the car works pretty well…

    3. I like this kid already. If he can salvage a point or two on his debut weekend, then I think it’s mission accomplished for race 1.

      Sainz needs to step up his game.

      1. What this result says about “fritangas” Alonso in all this 4 years… In 1 race the rookie equal the best performance of “fritangas” Alonso, while earning 0.5 million a year and “fritangas” Alonso 40 million a year.
        If they invested that money in the car and not in an overrated driver…..

        1. Such nonsense.

          1. Stats don’t lie.

            1. Different car different year different engine. You simply cannot compare.

            2. Bad science.

            3. Exactly…I don’t get how ppl think when it comes to F1….Its like they think everything is exactly the same every year – good grief.

            4. Personally I think it’s a reasonable question. We’ll have to see how McLaren develop this season. Maybe Alonso will work some of that magical effect he has (on leaving). Mourinho has a similar talent at football clubs.

            5. He’s been 4 years with McLaren 160 millions invested in him, and 0 podiums and very bad results. The same every year, the car is bad the car is bad, why u don’t develop kid? Why they would have done with that 160 millions invested in car developing in the factory…

            6. alex, firstly, as noted be Dieter, it sounds as if a lot of the salary figures that are bandied about for the various different drivers are probably exaggerated by a fairly significant chunk (and that figure of $40 million per year already sounds a lot higher than what was usually suggested).

              Secondly, how much of that income would actually be coming from McLaren in the first place? A lot of drivers have contracts that pay a lower base salary, but greater flexibility on signing personal sponsorship deals; there were suggestions that Alonso’s contract was geared in that way, so some of those claimed salary payments may in fact be personal sponsorship deals.

              It has also been claimed that, when Honda were backing McLaren, they were paying Alonso directly – if so, it’s questionable whether it materially impacted McLaren during that period.

            7. That is not how you do stats… Statistics is a mathematical discipline and is not something that can be done by lookin at a couple of data points. To do it properly you will need to look at the relative performance of the car etc.

              You might like to look clever with your comment but it is entirely ignorant of actual statistics…

              However a great drive by Norris let’s hope it proves the McLaren is a reasonable car this year and let’s hope it is the start of good things for Norris.

            8. Enemies don’t hide.

          2. @Alex And now they qualify 8th and all of a sudden Alonso leaving has been positive for them? And if you care about stats so much, where would McLaren have finished in the constructors had they had two Vandoornes driving for them last season. The amount of money that Alonso won for them there (still discounting all the money they make from having a popular, marketable two-time WC) is far more than the reported 25m he was earning.

        2. Maybe you’re in awe of Magnussen as well.. he took a podium on his debut. Magnussen is definitely worth $40 million euros a year.


        3. “What thiS rEsulT sayS ABout “friTangAS” aLonso in AlL THIs 4 YEArS… in 1 Race tHE RoOkIE eQual thE BESt perFORMANCE OF “FritAnGAS” ALonSo, WHIlE eARniNg 0.5 MILliON A YEaR and “FRItaNGAs” AlOnSo 40 million a YeaR.
          If TheY iNvEStEd tHAt monEY In tHe cAr And nOt In An OVERraTED drivER…..sTaTs dON’T lIe. He’s BEEn 4 yeARs WiTh mCLaREN 160 mIlLIONs INvEsTEd In him, anD 0 podiums aND very baD RESuLTS. The SaMe EveRY yEAR, ThE CaR iS Bad THE car iS bad, WHY u don’T DeVEloP KiD? WHY TheY WoUlD HAVe dOnE With ThaT 160 millions INvESTEd in cAR dEvELoping in tHe fACtoRY…”


    4. Great for Nano and McLaren hope their engine develops to keep them competitive later on.

    5. Betcha Alonso’s already eyeing a seat back with McLaren.

      1. @phylyp Because they qualified 8th?

        1. @mashiat – in the hands of a rookie.

          1. Didn’t Vandoorne and Magnussen qualify just as well on their debuts? McLaren were still bad despite that.

            1. No Magnussen qualified a lot better and scored a podium in the race. McLaren has NOT had a podium since! A lot of people, also on this site, claimed the sligthly older Vandoorne was a much bigger talent than K Mag and therefore it was good McLaren took Vandoorne. Well history has proven K Mag has more of a future I F1!

    6. Who needs Fernando?

    7. Looks like Norris refound his qualifying form then. Great start to his career (although Vandoorne’s first race with the team also was about as good as it gets, wasn’t it?)

      1. Oof, way to put a damper on expectations @bascb, but indeed Vandoorne did have a pretty impressive first race (but also: probably a bit better chassis than he had in the two full years too). Still, looks like McLaren might be on an upwards trajectory again, finally.

    8. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      16th March 2019, 8:43

      Everyone needs to remember that Kevin Magnussen qualified 4th, finished 3rd, and was eventually promoted to 2nd place in his McLaren debut…

      1. Comparing incomparable. McLaren and the whole grid was in a completely different situation, McLaren had a powerful Mercedes then and other teams had huge issues with their engines. This is a solid result given how tightly packed the midfield is.

      2. Yeah, a bit similar to how I mentioned that Vandoorne’s first race for the team also went quite well.

    9. Lando driving like it’s a Millennium Falcon.
      Great performance

    10. I had Norris down as beating Sainz this season but not quite so quickly. Great performance and great for McLaren’s morale.

    11. How do you explain to a patronising Ferrari, Mercedes or red bull fan that 8th is a crap result. Yes it shows improving form for McLaren but seriously though. If you were a Mercedes fan and Hamilton or bottas came 8th would you be happy? Same question for red bull or Ferrari fans. I guess not because 8th is not a good position. A good way to test this is to ask a non f1 fan of 8/20 is a great result. They will be confused you think it is… have a running race with 20 people no one cares who came 8th. Nobody would be singing praises if kubica had held up norris instead of sainz. Norris has talent. We knew this. Nothing has changed. He is great. After supporting McLaren through thick and thin for 36 years i know my team is unlikely to get a win or get a podium this year. Again. It sucks that only three teams can win. If it has got to the point we think 8th is a triumph we should probably pack up and go home.

      1. McLaren’s problems stem from when they decided to hire Button alongside Hamilton, switching development to compensate for the former’s style/issues, making the latter unhappy and ultimately losing the better driver. Just seems a series of management issues of their own making ever since, trying to expand into a car-selling brand at the cost of racing. Blaming Ferrari (who took years to climb out of their own nose dive), Mercedes and Red Bull for issues internal to a very wealthy and well-equipped team seems a bit pathetic.

        1. @david-br you seem confused. My comment does not blame ferrari, Mercedes or red bull for issues relating to McLaren. Please quote where I said this. You are correct: that would be pathetic as they are a shambles. I have full respect for these teams and their achievements. My comment relates to the fact people seem to think 8th is something to celebrate. It is not. I stand by my opinion that it sucks only 3 teams can win. Is there not a huge discussion regarding this at the moment? Or are you happy with the status quo of only three teams being able to win?

          1. @darkstar Sorry Christopher, sometimes we respond generically, lots of people who seem to blame the top 3 teams for dominating currently (e.g. through control of cash flow, engine deals, etc.) when here I should have responded to you specifically while presuming anything. Your comment about patronizing fans of these teams maybe triggered the negative reaction. I’d no intention of patronizing McLaren or Norris, I want to see both do well this year and like I said above, I think it must be a boost for the team that Norris got into q3 and eighth on first attempt. I guess I was surprised you didn’t take that more positively.

            1. * without presuming anything

        2. @david-br A little bit harsh on Jenson Button there: he was the reigning WDC when he joined McLaren, he won his second and fourth races for the team that season, whilst it took Hamilton until Race 7. He didn’t finish behind Hamilton in every season they raced together. Oh, and we can’t forget that Hamilton struggled at Belgium 2012 to such an extent he tweeted out their telemetry print-outs because he couldn’t understand why he was so much slower than Butoon (who both qualified in Pole Position and won the race).

          Hamilton is a very deserving five time WDC, but to suggest that Button was the problem that caused Hamilton to leave is being very selective with the facts. 2012 was the year of a litany of unforced team errors that affected both sides of the garage, but disproportionately Hamilton (because even as a Button fan I know that Hamilton was often in higher points positions when issues struck).

          By 2010, McLaren were no longer Mercedes-Benz main focus: after all, they had purchased Brawn GP to form their own factory team, and why would they prioritise an engine customer over their own factory efforts?

          1. @nvherman My point was that McLaren ended up with two quite different drivers both of whom, like you said, had equal claims on the team’s focus as WDCs. Button has been open – through the advice he says he gave to Rosberg – on how he beat Hamilton off-track as much as on. We know what those dynamics did for Mercedes and how the team seems happier without them. Only in the McLaren case it was Button who stayed. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions about which turned out best.

      2. Lets take a look at this a bit differently: Lets say we have an athlete who is a runner and one of the best in the world. Then he has an accident and he cant walk bacause of his injurie. But he his determined to come back. Firstly he cant do nothing, then he barely manages to get himself standing up for five minutes, after many months of pain and massive efforts he finally manages to make his first steps back on his two feet. – that is a big thing. After walking, comes running and after running you can get yourself to be one of the best again. This is how i see the situation and Mclaren literally got themself injured, beaten and left lying on the ground. I believe the part of being unable to walk is behind them, now they are in walking/running phase. They have became more humble, the road to recovery is still long, but if they put their heads down and work hard, they can get back where they belong.

    12. Stunning debut by Lando. A sensational performance irrespective of Sainz’s unfortunate incident. Lando beat the works team of Renault after all.

      After years of not supporting McLaren (especially due to the way they handled the Honda relationship), I think I am going to warm up to them this year. Finally, they seem to have put their head down and made a good car, no lofty talk, a great rookie (so far, touchwood tomorrow goes well) as well.

    13. Maybe we should wait until they get two cars in q3 before coming to conclusions. Every year someone comes to melbourne and surprises and then disappears for the rest of the season

    14. i will repeat what ive been saying on this site for a long time… mclaren should have let go of alonso along time ago. they should have stayed with Honda. the pressure from alonso was over whelming for mclaren. for red bull to be fourth with a honda engine… speaks volumes for drive, chassis and engine.

      1. Duncan Snowden
        16th March 2019, 20:49

        Basically, I agree. But it’s what the drivers always say: “It is what it is”. There’s no point crying over spilt milk, and I think there are deeper problems at McLaren (or there have been) which meant that a more level-headed trajectory over the last three or four years was never going to happen. Let’s just be glad that things seem to be turning around. And keep our fingers crossed that Williams can do the same…

    Comments are closed.