Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Norris “shocked” by career-best fourth on the grid

2020 F1 season

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Lando Norris said he was “shocked” to qualify fourth, the highest starting position of his career to date, in the first qualifying session of the season.

His McLaren team had repeatedly played down their chances of beating rivals such as Racing Point and Ferrari following pre-season testing and practice yesterday.

“We weren’t expecting it,” Norris said. “Which I think makes it even better. We definitely weren’t expecting the top six.

“We thought the pink car was going to be quite a bit ahead of us because it looked pretty strong all weekend. I’m just quite shocked. I’m very happy because as a team, I think we can focus on ourselves and take it one step at a time.”

Norris’ previous best starting position was fifth in the French and Austrian grands prix last year. Fourth place is McLaren’s best starting position since Jenson Button qualified third at the same track four years ago.

The McLaren driver said he is particularly pleased with his final effort in Q3 after being forced to abort his first run in the session.

“I made a mistake out of turn one on the first set of tyres, which caused a little issue which meant I couldn’t do my run. So I was maybe a little bit on the safe side going into my second run, especially to start the lap.

“But the rest of it, the car really feels nice. I could push on it a lot and yeah, give me good confidence.”

However Norris is wary of the threat posed by some of the cars starting close behind him on the grid, such as Alexander Albon’s Red Bull in fifth.

“I think the job tomorrow is going to be even harder,” he said. “The car felt really good today, but the race is another story. I think the car works really nice in qualifying. It’s a bit more tricky in a race. But yeah, I think we got good confidence. We have good pace, but it’s gonna be very tricky. So we’ll have to wait to see.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr qualified his McLaren in eighth position, three tenths of a second slower than his team mate Norris.

2020 F1 season

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9 comments on “Norris “shocked” by career-best fourth on the grid”

  1. I hope this is the first of many good quali positions for norris and mclaren. I miss them being at the front.

    1. Indeed. Good to see McLaren haul themselves back up.

      Looks like being a good year for fans from a competitiveness viewpoint all around; with RP, McL and Renault all seeming to have closed the gap to the top three (Ferrari may even have fallen out of that group, but too early to tell).

      Shame we can’t go and see the races in person, but it’s great to be back!

    2. Sonny Crockett
      5th July 2020, 9:29

      X 1,000

  2. Awesome. All that lockdown simracing working with his engineer having an effect I bet.

    And happy to finally see McLaren up there. Hope it’s not a one-off, but this is Austria, not Australia, so hopeful.

  3. Hat tip to you mister Norris!

  4. This kid is mighty impressive. He was already as quick (if not quicker) than a highly rated Sainz in his rookie year. If Norris makes improvements in his race pace and race craft this year, he’d be a hot prospect for any top team in the near future.

    1. Agreed. I also think he needs be become a bit more ruthless with his overtaking. There were a few occasions last year when he made a really good start only to be too cautious and then loose the places again.

      1. He also should be ruthless with his defence(Brazil 2019 opening lap when the Idiot took a swipe at Norris).

  5. Sonny Crockett
    5th July 2020, 9:30

    I cannot wait to see Norris and Ricciardo in a Mercedes powered McLaren next season!

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