Lando Norris, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Staying on slicks “was no gamble” with information I had – Norris

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris defended his decision not to pit for intermediate tyres as rain fell in the final laps of the Russian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver lost his chance to win the race after sliding off the track on slick tyres in the closing laps of the race. That handed victory to Lewis Hamilton, who pitted for intermediates while chasing Norris.

“From one lap one to the other, the whole thing changed,” Norris explained. “The game changed completely.

“That final lap when Lewis boxed the slick tyre was still the tyre to be on. On that lap they asked ‘do you want to go on to the inter?’ And for the lap I just did, I didn’t, because the slick tyre was easily the correct tyre.

“Of course, now that’s the wrong decision. But my feeling I had I didn’t know there was going to be a lot more rain and there’s no way of me knowing unless they told me there’s going to be a lot more rain, which they didn’t.”

Norris said the decision wasn’t a gamble because he did not believe the conditions on the track were worsening.

“From the information I had there was no gamble on doing what we [did]. It wasn’t a gambling situation. It was dry and raining in a couple of corners and the slick tyre was the correct one to be on. So there was no gamble with that. We were on the best tyre.”

He said the team will look closely at how the chance of victory got away from them.

“It rained a lot more than I got told or that they knew, and if they knew they didn’t tell me to box. But this is something we will talk through.

“We did what we thought was best at the time and I can’t fault them for that. I’ve got to stand by their decision and my decision and we’ll review it.”

He told Sky after the race he was “devastated” to have missed out on his chance to score his first win having taken pole position and led much of the race at Sochi.

“It’s just a bit of heartbreak. I feel like I did everything I could, even when it got tricky at the end, I made a couple of mistakes, but still kept Lewis behind and started to pull away a little bit.”

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2021 Russian Grand Prix

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43 comments on “Staying on slicks “was no gamble” with information I had – Norris”

  1. Absolutely gutted for Lando. It was worth taking the risk for the win. I kinda feel that anything else would have likely only resulted in 2nd again, except for possibly pitting a lap before Ham, but he’d have likely followed Norris in anyway.
    I feel bad for Lando, cos he’s gonna get a lot of grief from armchair experts now for losing a podium. But either way, what a weekend. I’m do proud of him.

    1. He deserves the grief for blaming his team for it.

      But my feeling I had I didn’t know there was going to be a lot more rain and there’s no way of me knowing unless they told me there’s going to be a lot more rain, which they didn’t.

      1. It rained a lot more than I got told or that they knew, and if they knew they didn’t tell me to box. But this is something we will talk through.

        We did what we thought was best at the time and I can’t fault them for that.

        Isolating just one part of what he said without also noting the other contextualising statements isn’t helpful.

    2. @eurobrun aren’t we all armchair experts here?

    3. @eurobrun For me, Norris has been the driver of the season so far.

      As for this race – it’s always a very tough call when you’re leading the race and the conditions start to change. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I fully understand why he made the call he did, but pitting when called by the team would have seen him finish P2 at the absolute worst. But, when that first win is so tantalisingly close….

  2. This is where McLaren need a James Vowles saying “Lando, it’s James, box now for inters”. No debate. Still gutted. What a drive, undone by a driver override that should have been called out. Hell, even a “Lando, it’s Zak, box”.

    Great race all in all though!

    1. I suppose more appropriately, “Lando, it’s Andreas, box now”

    2. The gauling thing is Norris had the window to pit and still come out in 2nd. There should have been no debate.

    3. Yes, but then even Hamilton ignored Mercedes first instruction to pit for inters.

  3. I don’t think there was a chance of matching Hamilton on the intermediates – only in case McLaren had reacted first and stopped a lap earlier than Hamilton. This is a huge learning lesson for Norris and I hope it helps the team in their upward curve in performances, too. Hope they can stay where they are now the next year.

    1. You summed it up well. Lando’s time is coming, sooner or later he’ll win his first race.As you said, I hope the whole teams learns from this and make better call in the future. They are slowly catching up with the leading teams.

    2. Yes. I agree with you regarding the learning curve. I really feel for Lando. He is leading and very close to his maiden win so I can understand why he didn’t want to pit and gift LH the win……but once LH pitted he should have come in the next lap. That way he could have still won, or at worst, secured 2nd, but hindsight is always 20 20.

      Keep your chin up Lando. Your turn will surely come.

    3. Why would Lando be unable to match Hamilton? He did so on hards and at the moment of Hamilton boxing he was 2s ahead with DRS disabled.

      Also it’s possible that Hamilton would do the opposite to Norris as he wasn’t convinced it is the right call.

  4. From what it seemed during the race, Lando wasn’t listening, told the team to “shut up” (on an earlier occasion) and should learn something out of this

    1. Yep. At one point I recall his engineer just losing his mind telling him to box (~lap 49). Definitely Lando’s shortcoming, but it’s good experience for the future I guess

      1. It’s a personality flaw of Landos IMO. I just cant take to him. I have never not been able to put my support behind a British driver but I’m really struggling with Lando. Ever since he entered F1 I have had a problem with him… irrational as it may be. The boy has talent though! No doubt!

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      26th September 2021, 17:01

      To be fair though, at one point they were telling him who was in 4th and 5th when he was fighting to win his first race so he told them to be quiet. They need to be concise and give him the info he needs and only that.

      1. Not exactly, Norris told them to “shut up” right after he was told lots of cars were going off.

        If that’s not concise information about the track conditions I don’t know what it is.

  5. a red mist moment. Man was lapping as fast as intermediates a lap or two before his spin

  6. Hm, a bit nitpicky, but I get where Lando is coming from. I do think that in a few days he will just accept that their info was not as good and they/he just made the wrong call. Kudos for keeping with it.

  7. This race is to NOR what Bahrain 2019 was to LEC.
    Surely his first win is coming soon.

  8. Pit radio to Norris – “what do you think about inters?”
    Norris to pit radio – “NO!”

    Soon after that Hamilton pits. He clearly had a much stronger message having declined to pit the lap before.

    1. The team should have taken responsibility and not ask him to come in, but TELL him. I think the team has done an incredible job this year and the shouldn’t be too harsh on themselves. But they must learn from this. The team has got all the information.

    2. Totally on the McLaren weather crew or a communication error at the pit wall. Either they didn’t know there was more rain incoming or the right people wasn’t told about it in time. From what Norris saw out on track, the rain easing off, going to inters would only cost them the time of making the stop. Hamilton didn’t want to pit either, but his team responded by providing their driver with more information, which also turned out to be absolutely accurate.
      Hamilton to pit – “It’s stopped raining, man!”
      Pit to Hamilton – “So, box box, box box, pit confirm. There is more [rain] coming.”
      Solid from Merc this time, a strong learning experience for every one at McLaren.

  9. Apparently the team also didn’t know more rain was coming or they would have told him to come in in stead of asking, just like Mercedes did with Hamilton, when he ignored the first call.

    May be McLaren should employ better meteorologists, as other teams did know :)

  10. Any word on the Penalty Norris was expected to get after sliding out the the pit lane and then returning to pit?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th September 2021, 18:13

      It’ll be a sympathy call probably which is fine.

  11. Really gutted for him! Lando drove a brilliant race and then it all fell into pieces with just a few laps to go.
    Maybe the team shouldn’t have told him at the start of the race that their weather forecast often shows more rain than that of the other teams. This could’ve let Lando to believe there is less rain coming than what was actually the case.

    I like that fighting spirit though. Not being satisfied with a podium and going for the win, even if it backfired somewhat today. Even though McLaren didn’t maximize their results today, neither did their main rival Ferrari. Both teams probably lost 12 points today (Leclerc lost 4th place and Norris the difference between 2nd and 7th place). They still extended their lead by 4 points and are now 17.5 ahead of Ferrari.

  12. If Norris had pitted for inters when instructed, he would have finished 1st or 2nd. Probably 1st.
    If Hamilton hadn’t pitted fir inters when he did, Verstappen would probably have won.

    1. Very true

    2. I don’t know when Norris was “instructed” to pit, that was never broadcast if he was. The team was hinting to him that he probably should pit, but they never told him to. When he decided to stay out on lap 49, when Hamilton then pitted behind, Norris only acted on what he had seen on track that lap. It had stopped raining and the team had not told him there was more incoming. The team should have known and told Norris, but since they didn’t I must say Norris did make the right call given the information he had at the time. To bad it was the wrong information.
      On lap 50 though, Norris should definitely have pitted. It was obvious with the pace Hamilton was catching up on inters that the 18 seconds that was left of the lead at the pit entry would not last another three laps. Pitting would have left Norris at least 5-6 seconds behind Hamilton when rejoining the track, but with a 40+ second gap to Verstappen it was a safe 2nd place salvage. But if McLaren were putting all their cards on a win the only option left was to hope for the best and stay out.
      Riccardo went for inters on lap 48, and rejoined about 81 seconds behind Hamilton. At the finish he was 65 seconds behind Hamilton. So on that basis, had Norris pitted earlier, it would have been a win. Again, McLaren should have known more rain was coming and told their driver, like Mercedes did.

  13. This may become a saying“Lando’s No”

  14. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th September 2021, 18:12

    Well, he seemed to be a bit dismissive of the team’s feedback. Unilke Raikonnen, he really didn’t know what he was doing :)

  15. I believe Chandhok was saying the rain was easing, so the decision not to pit Norris was taken by someone sticking their arm out on the pit wall which is appalling in F1 2021.

    1. @balue
      I wouldn’t call it that. Although the weather radar is a great tool for the teams, it’s not always 100% accurate. It was this time, but it was wrong a lot in the recent and distant past.
      Sometimes the rain cells arrive a couple of minutes later than predicted and judging the current situation by just pulling out your arm at the pitwall isn’t such a bad idea.
      Had the rain cells arrived about 8 minutes later, Norris would’ve been fine.

      1. @srga91 Yes, but even we could see the squalls out at sea with the naked eye. Even the size of them. OnTV. With the corrolating radar image, I refuse to think it was all that difficult to gage. Mercedes knew full well that it was going to be heavy, yet some others (Alonso’s engineer actually thought it was easing) had no idea which is too hard to believe. How about spotters at the seafront or even in boats if interpreting a radar is so hard? Somebody from catering or whatever? It could mean the difference between victory or 7th.

  16. Can’t criticise Lando, Lewis admitted he didn’t want to stop and he even said it live (the radio message was played in the broadcast).
    So it is true that Lando said No when asked but he was asked and not told more rain was coming.

    On top of that Lando could have lost the win if the inters offered no big advantage whilst Hamilton had nothing to loose by pitting as he wouldn’t lose 2nd place.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th September 2021, 21:21

      @bakanom if anything, the fault for the decision lies with the team especially in reviewing data from Verstappen’s pit stop. Lando could have handled communication a bit better and asked for clarification.

      He could have asked “does pitting to inters guarantee a victory if Lewis stays out?” What’s the delta between slicks and inters?

      Yeah but hindsight is 20/20…

  17. Maybe did he watch Brad Binder Victory on austria motogp race thise year and tried to do the same :)

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th September 2021, 21:17

      That’s a great point…

  18. Post race interviews
    Hamilton: “Lando… you didn’t want to come in?”
    Norris: “No.”
    Hamilton: “Me neither! I was like he’s right there. I guess you were in the mirrors doing the same thing.
    Norris: “I think until then it was dry enough for slicks.”
    Hamilton: “Yeah, between 5 and 7 right?”
    Norris: “Our decision, what i was told, is that the rain was going to stay like that. Apparently what you were told was different…
    Hamilton: “Yeah… my team were great today. But I ignored the first call.. I was like he’s right there!”
    Norris: “I ignored them the whole time!”

    He drove a great race today. With more experience, he’ll learn.

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