Lando Norris, McLaren, Monaco, 2021

Norris ‘pretty worried’ as confidence in car ebbed after pit stop

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lando Norris has described how his change of tyres in the Monaco Grand Prix almost undid a weekend of building confidence in his McLaren and his shot at the podium.

Norris qualified fifth but lined up fourth on the grid after pole-winner Charles Leclerc failed to start. The McLaren driver claimed his second podium of 2021 in third place after benefiting from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas having pit stop problems.

Bottas and Norris were the first front runners to trade their soft compound tyres for hards, and Norris was within 10 seconds of leader Max Verstappen before a drop in pace prompted him to pit on lap 30 of 78.

“The first stint we were pretty competitive,” Norris said post-race. “Pretty similar on pace to what Carlos [Sainz] was doing – and Bottas and Max.

“Maybe Max was slightly ahead – but I could see on the TV screens when I was going past what lap times Max was doing in the lead and I wasn’t that far behind. I was like, ‘OK, this is going well’.”

Norris had said that he had the “confidence to push the car in qualifying”, in which he was only 0.274s slower than pole winner Leclerc, and that that confidence had continued into the first stint of the race on the same set of soft tyres he had gone sixth fastest in Q2 with.

However the hard compound he ended the race on changed the balance. Norris came under late pressure from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who pitted five laps later than the McLaren driver and then closed a nine-second gap to Norris down to under 0.6s using his tyre life advantage. However the Red Bull driver couldn’t find a way past.

“As soon as we put the hard tyre on, it kind of turned to the opposite,” said Norris.

“It was a very hard car to drive. Much easier to lock up and snatch the front, worse over the bumps and so on. Not a lot of confidence.

“As soon as I heard where Sergio was in terms of his tyre strategy, how much later he boxed, I got pretty worried but I kept it on the black stuff, which is the most important.”

Yesterday’s result means Norris lies third in the standings after the first five races.

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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9 comments on “Norris ‘pretty worried’ as confidence in car ebbed after pit stop”

  1. It seems the McLaren is a bit of a Diva like the Mercedes of the past, when it’s in the mood it can be a joy to drive but if she gets cranky she’ll make your life very uncomfortable.

    It’s making a bit more sense why Ric is taking so long to adjust to the car as he probably starts to feel he’s learning the behaviour and becoming comfortable when all of a sudden the car completely changes its attitude, like a whole different car.

  2. It was a great drive from Lando but if Checo wasn’t able to make a lunge for third place then that’s really all the proof you need that Monaco is a horrendous circuit when it comes to actual racing!

    1. Super drive from Norris. Lapping your team mate is incredible, especially when it’s the likes of Ricciardo. With all the early track limit transgressions, I was half-expecting a penalty when the tyres didn’t feel good and Perez came at him, but he kept it clean.

      His engineer reminding him about the typical slip of concentration for the last fifth of the race could also be Norris, as he’s said how his improvement has a lot to do with working with his engineer to ‘pull out the stops’, and a hardened simracer like Lando is bound to know exactly when his weak period is so could well have instructed his engineer to put in a reminder then.

      1. Yeah but lapping is different in Monaco than other circuits. Ricciardo had pace on the hards but got stuck behind Kimi so he was always losing time to the leaders and Lando was beind dragged forward a little by the front runners. Once Max got past Lando coming past was inevitable. That’s Monaco. You have to qualify well and that is why it is such a great circuit. Everywhere else you get a chance on race day to make up positions, but Monaco Saturday’s are the biggest on the calendar.

  3. These tyres are such a head scratcher. I thought Lewis had them figured out but he was outpaced by Bottas who showed the car was good for pole. what is happening between Norris and Ricciardo is odd, Daniel looked sharp and pretty comfortable but he had zero pace, Norris looked understeery but the car was quick. Norris excluding spain seems to be the most consistent driver out there.

    1. I disagree. Ricciardo’s pace on the hards was excellent. Second only to Bottas I believe. He had the pace but just not track position. I think on any other circuit Ricciardo may have made time up to Lando as he commented that the hard was harder for him to drive. I think Azerbaijan will be interesting to see what happens with the Mclaren drivers.

  4. Maybe RBR still though of a last minute overtake (Checo to Landó) which seemed extremely improbable. But it’s the only explanation I can find for not going for the FLAP when Checo had a free pit stop and Sir Busdriver had scored his way too early.

  5. I understand the desire to go Hard on a one-stop race, but Monaco is about fine control. They should have had him qualify on Mediums and gone Medium then Hard. This obsession with qualifying always on softs is foolish.

  6. NOR liked the softs but not the hards, with RIC the other way around. Setup or driving styles?

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