Downbeat Norris says “it’s obvious what’s going to happen tomorrow” after second-fastest time

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Lando Norris lacked confidence in the balance of his McLaren despite ending Friday practice less than a tenth of a second behind pace-setter Max Verstappen.

He suspects McLaren’s strong showing on Friday came about because other teams did not push their cars as hard as early in the weekend. Norris expects Red Bull and Mercedes will end up ahead of them in qualifying on Saturday.

“We look quick today, but I think it’s fairly obvious what’s going to happen tomorrow,” he said. “It’s going to be the usual front four cars ahead of us.

“Behind, everything’s very close. Even if today we are a little bit ahead, I think it’s because we just showed a bit more. We’ll go in tomorrow and be a little bit more where we should be.

“I feel good in the car, the car does feel good in some areas. In some areas also it doesn’t feel that good and we need to improve, and if we can improve it tomorrow, then I’ll be happier.”

Norris said he isn’t as comfortable yet with the MCL35M’s handling as he was with last year’s car.

“I don’t have the confidence that I want, especially in the medium and high speed corners,” he explained. “So corners like turn six, seven. I made a mistake there on my first lap and I had to abort because I turned in and just complete lost the rear.

“My confidence in the car isn’t where I want it to be, isn’t where we had it last year. But there’s also improvements in other places compared to last year. So it’s not necessarily that everything has to be better, there’s just areas to work on.”

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Author information

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...
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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7 comments on “Downbeat Norris says “it’s obvious what’s going to happen tomorrow” after second-fastest time”

  1. You never know who’s sandbagging. The drivers know more than the times suggest. I’m gonna say that Norris’s assessment is accurate due to one fact. The fact that you can’t put much into practice times. Everybody knows how much they have in the ‘tank’. Nobody is using it all up for preliminaries. That’s what the races are for. Should be interesting.

    1. Like Max said: “Lets see after Q3”

      Reply moderated
    2. Actually we know. This is not new. Times are slow compared to testing.

  2. Plot twist I don’t expect, but hope for…

    Norris is lying and McLaren were sandbagging just as much as Red Bull

    1. Or he just plain underestimated the relative sandbagging levels. (If all teams were sandbagging, that’s a possibility without anyone needing to lie).

  3. I think all the drivers will be feeling less confident with the balance and with the rear end on corner entry. 1.5 days of testing (at best) isn’t nearly enough for them to get used to the loss of rear downforce, and the adjustment to the aerodynamics of the car. Lewis said it himself that everyone is in the same boat, just some are somewhat more confident than others depending on how well their teams’ designers adapted to the new regs.

    (Typo in the last para, unless Lando directly contradicted himself in the same sentence: “My confidence in the car is where I want it to be, isn’t where we had it last year.”)

    Reply moderated
  4. It’s all still in the air, but looks like McLaren is still the 3rd fastest team.

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