Lando Norris, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2019

Norris defends McLaren strategy after losing place to Sainz

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Lando Norris supports McLaren’s decision to give him an extra pit stop during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, even though it cost him a place to his team mate.

Norris was running behind Sergio Perez when he pitted for the second time during the Virtual Safety Car period. The pit stop dropped him behind Carlos Sainz Jnr, and while the team hoped switching to a set of used soft tyres for the final 12 laps would help him catch and pass Sainz and Perez, Norris was unable to make any progress.

Despite forfeiting a position and two points to his team mate, Norris said he was “happy” with his team’s tactics.

“As a team we didn’t win or lose points from where we were before I stopped. We just wanted something to see if we could have a bigger advantage over Checo [Perez] to get ahead because we didn’t have the straight-line speed to pass him.

“We just tried something a bit different. And it wasn’t a win or a loss in the end, we just swapped positions, basically. So I’m happy with a seventh and eighth, it’s good points for the team.”

McLaren told Norris “we’d like to box to overtake” on the radio as he approached the pit lane entrance during the VSC period.

“It was a ‘box to overtake’ so if he boxed, I wouldn’t have boxed; if he didn’t box I boxed,” Norris explained. “I could’ve easily said ‘no I don’t think you’re right’ or ‘I want to stay out’ or whatever. It was just a chance to do something different, to do something a little bit better.

“I believed in their decision, I agreed with it, I boxed, I could’ve easily not boxed. So I’m fine with the decision, it was a team decision, it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

Norris said he was preparing to attempt an overtake on Perez when the VSC period began and believes he could have passed the Racing Point without the interruption.

“His tyres started going off a bit towards the end, just before the VSC,” he said. “My pace at that point was quite a bit better.

“I had a few opportunities but those last couple of laps before the VSC came out I was saving that battery, trying to make him use it as much as possible so I could make the most of him recharging on the final start-finish straight, as that was my only opportunity to try and pass.”

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21 comments on “Norris defends McLaren strategy after losing place to Sainz”

  1. Yes, Mclaren as a team mighnt’ have lost any points with this extra pit stop, but as a driver, he indeed did lose a couple of points by finishing seventh following this pit stop as opposed to finishing a place higher.

    1. he indeed did lose a couple of points by finishing seventh following this pit stop as opposed to finishing a place higher.

      When you are not fighting for the WDC, it doesn’t matter which team member finishes where in cases like this. Plus, Lando is a rookie, he is learning a lot about strategies and maximizing/optimizing the team’s performance on track.
      So nothing to lose; am glad that the mood in the Mclaren camp is positive these days. Nice to see an ailing team do well and if they are consistent enough, fourth place ain’t far away.

    2. ‘Eight’ not ‘seventh’

  2. How is this Norris’ first season in Formula 1?

    He is incredibly mature, doesn’t moan about things that would make other more experienced drivers explode, is driving the wheels off that McLaren to the point of even having a go at Max at the start of this race yet doing so without being stupid about it. Yes, this call didn’t work out, but he went along with it and accepts that it was his call to accept the stop. He also knows that it doesn’t always work out, and will likely think again in future.

    All of the rookies this year have been impressive, but this guy looks to be special. Great on the track, funny off the track (Seriously, check his tweets etc, they’re amazing) and a real prospect for the future.

    With how easy it is to be negative about Formula 1 and its future, it is genuinely great to see him and the rest of the rookies flying the flag for the future of the sport.

    1. @stopitrawr

      Aye mate. agreed.
      He is quietly ticking all boxes (expectations). There is not much fanfare around him which i guess is also helping him perform.
      Lot of admirable qualities indeed.

      1. All 3 rookies who were promoted from F2 have been impressive with their maturity and clean driving(so far).

    2. Agree, and the nice thing is, there’s no hype.
      Just a good driver doing great and accepting strategy calls that sometimes do not work.

  3. McLaren seem to be doing better this season – they’re often at the right end of the midfield. Also, without a driver of Alonso’s repute, it means that McLaren news is received with more equanimity, rather than triggering emotional responses in the comments.

    1. @phylyp Or you could look at it from the perspective that everybody has essentially accepted McLaren’s status as a long-term midfield runner in the way that Racing Point or Renault are. With Alonso there, there was some expectation for McLaren to be delivering a car capable of getting consistent podiums or wins, as they had a driver more than capable of doing so. Whereas now, there is no pressure from either driver for McLaren to be deliver a winning car, as neither knows how it feels to be on the podium in F1, let alone winning races. Whereas previously it seemed unbelievable that Alonso and McLaren were fighting for minor points positions, now it would be a surprise if they didn’t, as who expects Sainz and Norris to be among the frontrunners in F1?

      1. I think it is more than that. McLaren are looking a lot more organised and genuinely look like they have made a big increase in performance. They were never going to be fighting for the lead this season but they certainly look like they could well finish fourth. They will then have a good platform to move forward. Both Norris and Sainz are excellent drivers and both seem to be very level headed.

        1. A better comment than my reply :)

        2. I’m also seeing some improvement.
          Interestingly this happens when we see/hear less of Zak. Coincidence?

          1. Not a coincidence at all.

            Zak has always said he wants the team he is building to run the racing side more and he can then concentrate on the commercial side. Both are critical in F1 and the likes of Key, De Ferran etc now in permanent place, he can let them do the talking.

      2. @mashiat – I wouldn’t go quite that far. They’re rebuilding. They’ve been living a lie for many years of the Honda partnership, 2018 showed they also have chassis issues, and they gradually seem to be coming to terms with it. They need to move through the midfield before they can even think of targeting the top 3. The fact that McLaren are generally doing better (thus far) than the works Renault team is probably the strongest indicator I used in making my original comment.

        1. @phylyp

          They’ve got a way to go, but the signs are positive.

          The fact that they’re handily outperforming Renault who have a bigger budget and arguably higher caliber drivers shows they’re doing something right.

          1. @stopitrawr
            Bigger budget? Not according to this site.

        2. @phylyp I completely agree that they are moving forwards. But it seriously would have been hard not to, given how bad McLaren was last season, and the fact that they basically started focussing almost entirely on the 2019 car earlier than most teams. But that doesn’t change my statement that people’s expectations of McLaren have sunk to the point where we are impressed by them achieving a double points finish. Of course the driver has a role in this. People were expecting far more of Renault when Ricciardo joined than when they just had Hulkenberg and Sainz, because now people expect a driver who has won races in 4 out of the last 5 years to be up there more so than perpetual midfield runners.

          1. People were expecting far more from Renault because they were the 4th best team last season and we were expecting them to challenge the big 3 this season (moreover they’re also a manufacturer team). People will expect the same of Mclaren next season if they finish as the best of the rest this season. But that expectation won’t happen to teams like Toro Rosso for example. Nobody will expect a Toro Rosso to challenge Red Bull next season even if they finish as best of the rest this season. Drivers only play a small role in this.

  4. Renault has to be considered a factory team along with Mercedes, Ferrari and, now, Red Bull. The rest are customers as far as power units are concerned. McLaren surely outperformed their factory team in Baku. And, from from what Perez says, were pretty competitive against Racing Point. This has to be considered a big step forward compared to the past three seasons. Barcelona will tell us more…

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