Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Leading quicker rivals was “fun” but it couldn’t last – Norris

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris enjoyed leading two quicker rivals in the opening stages of the Styrian Grand Prix, but admitted he had to let them past eventually.

The McLaren driver started third on the grid and ran ahead of Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas until lap nine. But once the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers closed on him, Norris made little attempt to keep his position.

“With how much quicker Red Bull and Mercedes were today, I had no chance,” he said. “I tried holding them off for as long as possible in the first stint, which was still like 10 laps or something. But they were so much quicker I was starting to ruin my own race by harming my tyres and stuff. So I had to think about that, still.”

“A bit of the fun comes from knowing I’m in a worse car and I’m ahead of them,” Norris added. “It’s cool also realising how much quicker they are today, which proves how much better that car is, but on a day like yesterday I out-qualified one of them. It shows we’re doing a good job in qualifying at times – maybe not Paul Ricard.”

Norris finished the race fifth ahead of McLaren’s closest championship rivals, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc. The McLaren driver said it was clear before the race they wouldn’t be able to put up a race-long fight against the championship leading teams.

“It’s never nice, you don’t want to just give up any position,” said Norris. “But we did our homework. I knew at the beginning, I already knew yesterday who I was going to be racing against and so on. So it was quite straightforward.

“There’s these laps where I can try and see what our pace is like and how long I can keep them behind because it still gives me a good gap to the guys behind them. But I also need to make that decision when it’s starting to hurt my own race. And if I did it for too much longer I could have been a lot more vulnerable at the end of the race to Carlos and stuff.”

Although Ferrari’s race pace was very poor at the previous round, Norris said McLaren expected them to be stronger this weekend.

“The Ferraris were very fast in the end, or just all the way through the race. Their race pace was already very strong on Friday so we were expecting them to be fast.

“I still had to push a bit, it wasn’t a completely easy and straightforward race, but we did what we had to do and we couldn’t have done any better today.”

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2021 Styrian 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...
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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18 comments on “Leading quicker rivals was “fun” but it couldn’t last – Norris”

  1. Norris is maturing so well this season – cool & calm a d racing well – if McLaren can make a step up next year he’ll be right up there for regular podiums

    1. They will get it. They’re a strong team now.

  2. I’m really impressed by Lando, definitely did not expect him to be this good. Hats off! I might even currenty put him at no. 3 behind Max and Lewis over Charles whose pace is devilish but the consistency just doesn’t seem to be there.

    1. I think I agree but mostly because when LEC sends it there is such a high chance of carbon fiber flying… Today as well. It was good to see him battle through the field but the unnecessary contact here and there was cringe worthy. Somehow he is brilliant one moment and so clumsy the next. So I too will give the nod to NOR

  3. Super weekend by Norris again. The qualifying was stunning, and I liked how he retook the position lost on lap 1. Also mature to let the fastest cars go.

  4. Dont think Lando has got the minerals to fight for position. Fast but wheel to wheel he is not the hype job he is promoted as. GR, MV, CL and CS are all better young drivers.

    1. Rodric Ewulf
      27th June 2021, 21:29

      Yeah, that’s even more true because last week he made 7 or 8 overtakes on track, such a piece of cake indeed!

    2. Yeah, last week’s race kind of proves what you’re saying isn’t entirely correct.

      1. No it doesn’t. That is one race. Over the course of a season… nothing special at all.

    3. Yeah right …. funniest joke I’ve heard for a while ….

      1. Really? Want another one? Lando won’t win a single WDC. Save that one and use it as your own xx

        1. I’m good , I have a few other ones that are better 😏…

        2. One quick question: Do you often click the wrong button when trying to reply?

          (Bonus: REAL MADRID FOREVER!)

    4. @deanr you’re just sore because your precious Hamilton is having a tough time of it at the moment. Realistically, 5th is the best McLaren can hope to achieve if both Mercedes and both Red Bulls finish.
      Russell is good, but he’s had a few occasions now where he’s lost the chance to score points through his own actions.
      Leclerc, well, he screwed his own and Gasly’s races on lap 1, and it’s not even the first time this season.
      Sainz, not sure you can call someone who is 26 and in their 7th F1 season a young driver any more.
      Obviously, Verstappen is the best driver currently, so Norris would struggle against him, but the rest, you’re just wrong.

      1. Errrrrrrr no. Just an observation. But I can see you need to get a few things off your chest. Crack on son.

        1. I feel soreness in your comments as well. Lando is doing an outstanding job with the car he has. I wonder how would you fight in a machinery that is .5 to a second slower per lap right from the start. Would you shove them off the track? This is not a videogame son.

          Reply moderated
  5. Its interesting that he gave up the positions on lap 9, just after Danny Ric had his engine problems.

    The good news is he finished P5. McLaren are Clearly best of the rest. For two races running now

    1. Ferrari was up there this race, I have a hard time saying which was the 3rd best car this race.

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