Lando Norris achieved his unexpected pole position for the Russian Grand Prix by gambling on a switch to slick tyres.George Russell, whose early switch to the soft slick rubber was partly accidental.
But as Norris revealed after qualifying, he was keeping an eye on Russell’s progress on slick rubber using the video screens around the track.
“I was asking for info from George – because I was watching on the TV while I was driving around – on his lap to see what it was like,” said Norris, “where he was up and so on and asking for sectors and corners where he was strong, where he was struggling and so on.”
Norris used the intelligence on his rival’s lap to get the best out of his slick tyres on what turned out to be a pole-winning run.
“Having that information definitely helped, to know what sectors were definitely quicker, what sectors were maybe a bit wetter and trickier.”
At one stage Norris’ engineer Will Joseph gave him a breakdown of Russell’s sector times on his first lap on slicks and where he had lost time compared to his earlier run on intermediates. Norris said this gave him the confidence to attack harder on his flying lap.
“The difficult thing is now you have, I guess, in Q3, 10 of the best people on this day in Formula 1 in the world [trying to] put these laps in. So you can’t just drive around under the limit and know what to expect. Sometimes you’ve got to push it over and just find out if you made it once you’ve gone through the corner.
“So there was plenty of corners where I thought I might have gone in a bit hard here and it’s all going to go rather wrong. But it didn’t so that’s just, I guess, the level you’re got to be at to be in this position. So I’m happy I took those risks and made those decisions because they paid off the way they have.”
The McLaren driver took pole position by half a second, but admitted there were several occasions on his final lap where he thought he had over-done it.
“Many times during the lap I thought it was all going to go quite badly wrong and you’re going to mess it up. Especially in the final chicane, 15-16, I think it is. It was still very wet in this section and I had quite a few big wheel spins and some big snaps. But I kept it cool and brought it home.”
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Norris’ team radio during Q3
|Joseph||Okay Lando lead car, Bottas, is in turn seven now.|
|Joseph||And lead car Bottas is approaching turn 13 now.|
|Joseph||And last car’s on track which is Russell, he’s just left the pit lane.|
|Joseph||Okay so there’s six cars yet to open including Daniel in front. Bottas is first he’s just about to go around the final corner.|
|Joseph||Three cars to launch including Daniel in front. Sainz is the car behind you he is approaching turn 13 now. Pretty much just Daniel now to launch.|
|Joseph||Norris complete a lap on intermediates|
Okay Lando so car behind is Sainz he’s about nine second back, likely to be on a slow lap. How is the track?
|Norris||It’s definitely much drier. It’s definitely a lot drier. But I think in these conditions these tyres might be the right choice.|
|Norris||But it’s difficult to know. What time has Alonso done?|
|Joseph||Alonso did a 45… sorry, a couple of cars have put on slicks so we’re keeping an eye on them. Sainz behind you, careful with Sainz.|
|Norris||Come on, Will!|
|Joseph||Yeah mate, I’m sorry.|
|Joseph||Next car is Alonso, he’s in the middle of turn three now.|
|Norris||Okay let me know what you think of slicks because it could be a decent choice.|
|Joseph||Okay we’re making a decision now. So we will be box this lap, we’re just going to make a call as to which tyre.|
|Norris||I want softs. Softs.|
|Joseph||You’d like a soft tyre.|
|Norris||It’s a… it’s a risk, it’s a risk for sure.|
|Joseph||We’re going to take it.|
|Joseph||Okay so we’re boxing this lap. Just back up from Daniel a bit. And I need silver D5 now. You might just have to pull up behind Daniel, that’s okay, there’s plenty of time.|
|Joseph||Norris leaves the pits|
Track shgould be clear at exit. There’s four minutes to the flag so plenty of time here.
|Norris||Just watch the onboard of Russell and tell me where it’s looking tough.|
|Joseph||Okay understood we’re going to watch Russell. So Lando the sequence of laps is basically get it on the first timed lap, if we make a mistake, we should be able to go again, but I would assume it’s the first timed lap.|
|Joseph||So Russell is on a timed lap, he’s about three-quarters away through turn three. Suggest green F3, Russell in turn four now.|
|Joseph||And check brake balance as well. Russell in turn seven now.|
|Norris||How’s his lap looking?|
|Joseph||So far quicker between turn four and turn six.|
|Joseph||It doesn’t look that difficult for Russell.|
|Joseph||Two cars in front of you that’s Sainz and Daniel, they’re yet to launch. Russell is in turn 11. There’s Alonso behind you before Russell.|
|Joseph||Russell in turn 13.|
|Joseph||Russell in turn 15.|
|Norris||What’s his lap like?|
|Joseph||Slightly down overall.|
Lando we can back off, warm up the tyres and go again. There’s one minute 50 to the flag.
|Norris||Yeah. How far off was he? Give me an answer.|
|Joseph||He did a…|
|Norris||What lap time did he do?|
|Joseph||He did a 55.0 but he backed off in sector three. Sector one he did a 38.3 which was about 1.3 slower. Sector two he was about four tenths slower. It’s the second lap so prepare this tyre for the second lap. And Russell’s pushing now, he’s in turn eight at the moment.|
|Norris||Yeah I’m pushing still. Okay. No more comms.|
|Joseph||Russell potentially quicker now. There’s four cars ahead of you yet to launch. One minute eight to the flag.|
|Joseph||And check you’re happy with brake balance. Three cars ahead yet to open. One of them is in the final corner now. Russell approaching turn 13.|
|Joseph||Two cars yet to launch and just Daniel now in front. Russell approaching turn 15.|
|Joseph||Russell in 16.|
|Joseph||Completes final lap|
Okay a couple of cars yet to finish standby, standby a second.
|Norris||Is that done then or what?|
|Joseph||Yeah it’s done, hang on, hang on…|
|Joseph||Okay, pole position mate, pole position!|
|Norris||Let’s fucking go! Oh! Yeah baby! Oh my God! Hahaha! Oh shit. That’s fricking awesome.|
|Joseph||Low revs please, low revs, watch for the low revs.|
|Joseph||And remember to keep to the delta as well, keep to the delta.|
|Norris||Woo! Fuck this is awesome. Congrats guys and girls, awesome job.|
|Joseph||Keep an eye on that delta please.|
|Joseph||Okay Lando so you’re going to proceed into the pit lane and there’ll be boards there.|
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2021 Russian Grand Prix
- Sochi disappointment will make Norris and McLaren stronger, says Seidl
- F1 race start times could be brought forward to avoid Spa-style wash-outs
- New technology in Ferrari’s power unit update vital for 2022 – Binotto
- Mercedes have left too many points on the table, admits Wolff
- We made too many mistakes and didn’t deserve points – Gasly