Norris says fourth was possible without traffic on his final lap

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Lando Norris said he could have qualified on the second row of the grid had it not been for traffic on his final qualifying run.

However the McLaren driver was pleased with his qualifying position of seventh. “[It’s] better than we were expecting coming into today, so I’m happy,” he said. “I feel like I did a very good job with my laps, especially Q2, I felt like I really nailed it.”

He said his final run in Q3 was compromised after Sebastian Vettel ahead of him slowed to allow Max Verstappen past.

“It was just Q3, run two, where as I came over the hill I couldn’t see the Aston and I had a good gap at the time. But then he let Verstappen past round the last corner, which put him a couple of seconds further back and then I was just way too close to him.”

Verstappen, who passed the pair of them, furiously criticised Vettel and Norris after his final run in the session. Norris said traffic is an occupational hazard at the hilly Autodromo do Algarve.

“It’s a bit of a punishment of Portimao, not being able to see much around here,” he said. “But I definitely could have been maybe fourth on the grid today, so I’m a little bit annoyed about that.

“But it wasn’t like my fault, it wasn’t the team’s fault, it was just a bit unlucky in the end of the day. So I’m happy with the rest of it.”

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As team mate Daniel Ricciardo went out in Q1, Norris’ result was the high watermark for McLaren in qualifying. He said the team’s overall improved pace was a good sign, and it was rewarding to be fighting for higher positions.

“It’s a good improvement. And I think it’s good that we’re disappointed that we’re not there, it’s not like we’re disappointed not to get into Q3 or something like that.

“I think we did a good job to get into Q3, it was tight, but we’re definitely fighting for higher positions now, which is a nice thing.”

Norris was more than a second quicker than Ricciardo in Q1. He suspects his team mate is discovering their car is more complicated to get the best out of than others.

“The car’s maybe a little bit more tricky to drive than than some others. Not all of them, but just some. And that’s not too nice as a driver.

“But the car’s fast so it’s good to see the progress we’ve made.”

2021 Portuguese Grand Prix

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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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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6 comments on “Norris says fourth was possible without traffic on his final lap”

  1. Team radio to Norris on Verstappen not having put a time on the board was a bit suspicious…

    1. I understood the message not as ‘block him’ – as that’s a sure-fire way to get a penalty and no team would advise their driver to do that – and more as ‘make sure he doesn’t get a tow of you down the straight’ or something like that.

      1. Yes, I read the same into it (that it was an instruction not to give him a tow) – they were competing with Verstappen for position, which they haven’t always been and he and Norris are friends so it has been known for them to help each other out previously, despite not driving for the same team.

    2. The pressure by Mercedes pays off it seems.
      So running a Mercedes engine seem to mean you should aid the main team.

  2. Shame for Norris as he was quick again, but honestly serves the team right going out with everybody at the end of Q3.

    As it turned out, there was not the inevitable traffic issues, but the wind picked up as well.

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