Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2020

Norris surprised to be just two-tenths off pole after ‘best lap of the year’

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says he and McLaren were surprised by how close he was to pole position after he secured fourth on the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Norris equalled his best qualifying result of the season. He said his final lap of the session, which left him a quarter of a second away from pole position, was among his best of the year.

“I think my Q3 lap was just very strong and was just a very nice, tidy lap,” Norris said. “It wasn’t like it was perfect altogether but it was probably my best of the year in terms of getting the tyres in a good window and maximising what we have as a package this weekend.

“It took me and probably all of us by surprise how close we were to pole at the end of the day. I think that was the surprising thing. But, of course, I was very happy with fourth and the lap I did. So it was a nice way to end qualifying this season.”

Norris took a new power unit at last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix which he said accounted for some of his performance gain. But even with the fresher engine parts providing an increase in top speed, Norris believes that was not the main reason for his rapid lap.

“Obviously I got the new power unit in and it’s helping me out a lot more than what was bringing me down over the last three or four weeks,” he explained. “So maybe I have a half a tenth advantage or something over the whole lap. But I’m not two-and-a-half or three tenths down like the last few weekends.

“So a bit more competitive, which is nice, and happier to look at the data and not see myself down on the straights which is a good thing. I didn’t think that was the help at the end though.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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11 comments on “Norris surprised to be just two-tenths off pole after ‘best lap of the year’”

  1. A quick and clinical lap by Norris. I was more impressed by Sainz on the slower medium compound.

    1. Indeed. I would rate both McLaren drivers fairly highly, maybe Sainz more so on Sunday.

    2. Norris’ lap in Q3 was better than what either Bottas or Verstappen did. I do agree with you @jeff1s that Sainz did a great job with his Q2 lap on the mediums being only slightly slower than what Norris did on the softs. And both were very close behind the top cars.

      For Sunday, I guess we’ll see how strategy plays out – also depending on the start – clearly Norris and Albon will have to stop quite early, handing the advantage to Sainz right behind, I would expect the soft runners in the top 10 will drop behind Leclerc and behind the Renaults.

  2. Fantastic lap by Norris when it counted, and great speed by McLaren.

    This track really evens out the cars with its variation. Designers take note.

  3. McLaren will be back to glory.

  4. Why take a new engine so late in the season? Presumably this is one of his allowed quota or he would get a penalty?

  5. Great lap from Norris, just needs to work on being more consistent, high hopes for him.

  6. He’s probably the second quickest Brit on the grid now after Russell.

    1. George might have Everything.

  7. Racing Point surprised that McLaren had their last laugh and that Red Bull still haven’t sacked Driver 33.

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