Lando Norris, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Leclerc suspects Norris will feel “very guilty” over lost win

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc empathised with Lando Norris over his lost victory in Sochi but said he expects the McLaren driver will win a race soon.

Norris led much of the Russian Grand Prix but spun off the track when heavy rain fell after he stayed out on slick tyres. He finished seventh.

Leclerc also tried to avoid pitting for intermediate tyres during the cloudburst and fell from fourth to 15th as a result. The Ferrari driver said he could understand Norris’ despair at missing out on what would have been his first Formula 1 win.

“I can imagine what he’s feeling because also he’s part of the decision process in those type of situations and he might feel very, very guilty,” said Leclerc.

“But he’s an amazing driver. I think he has shown it very often this season. He has had a very strong season and I’m sure he will he will learn from it.

“It’s just a matter of time before his first win. I don’t think he should feel so down after the race he has done.”

Leclerc said he wasn’t able to make an early pit stop for intermediate tyres because his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was also in the garage at the same time. He therefore decided to risk staying out on slick tyres, until the rain became too heavy and he had to come in.

“It started to rain quite a bit at one point and we were very, very competitive in those conditions,” he said. “The second and last sector, the third sector especially, was dry. So I think what we were losing in the first and second with a bit of rain, we were gaining in the last one, so I decided to stay out.

“Then there was one lap where I doubted it but Carlos was just in front of me and was meant to stop that lap so I couldn’t stop at the same time. And then the lap after it was already too late. Then at that point, I knew my race was already compromised, so I tried to stay on slicks, hoping that the rain decreased, which didn’t happen.

“So I’m disappointed with a race like this because obviously the first part was looking extremely good, some very, very good overtaking, some very good pace and to finish 15th like this hurts.”

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2021 Russian Grand Prix

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15 comments on “Leclerc suspects Norris will feel “very guilty” over lost win”

  1. He should have double-stacked.

    On the other hand, absolutely hate it when driver’s debut wins are stolen like this – Leclerc at Bahrain 2019, Russell at Sakhir 2020, and now Norris.

    1. It was heartbreaking but that what happens when weather conditions change right at the end of a race or qualy, Norris got his first pole because changing conditions favoured him and yesterday changing conditions hurt him because when you’re in the lead you tend to be more conservative and he lost out. But Lando is such a great driver and McLaren is getting better, hopefully he will be a race winner before the season ends.

      1. It’s a fair point that people tend to forget – he was only in that position because he got lucky on saturday.

        Much like when Bottas was “unlucky” to lose in Baku a few years back even though he was only in that position due to weird luck

        1. To be fair, I reckon Bottas would have won the race (I know he didn’t, but you know what I mean) without the safety car. He would have rejoined a few seconds behind Vettel but with 10 lap newer tyres.

    2. the win wasn’t stolen, he lost it by not pitting when the team told him to

      1. @lucifer

        the win wasn’t stolen, he lost it by not pitting when the team told him to

        Absolutely not the case. He was asked what he thought about inters and he said no. Then the team even told him that he had to stay out on the slicks.

  2. As he should. Norris blew it but in the end the team should kick themselves as well for failing to impose their will on him just like Mercedes did with Lewis who was hesitant to change his tyres.

    1. That trust and understanding takes time to build. Hamilton’s trust in the teams call and the team in Hamilton’s call got perfected over 7-8 years of winning together. Both Mclaren and Norris are new at being competitive in front. It takes time to make perfect those calls that will look “lucky” to viewers on TV. This was hopefully a great learning experience for Mclaren and Norris.

      1. Not to mention sometimes those calls go spectacularly wrong.

      2. Silly thing to say when Mercedes-Hamilton blew a win just a few races ago with in about the exact same circumstance in Hungary, and many others before that. And Hamilton disregarded the team’s call, just like Norris now.

  3. And he should. Anyway, I’m sure he’ll eventually get his maiden win if Mclaren keeps their upward trajectory,
    even if this meant next season.

  4. I think the fault lies with his engineer as well as Norris. Norris has shown in the past to be a bit snappy and with the added pressure of leading and possibly winning a GP, the red mist dropped an he made a bad call. His engineer should have directed him to pit no arguments. I did not hear the Ricciardo call but he did pit and gained a place as a result.
    Anyway Norris has again shown he is a real talent and with the right support he’ll be in the mix for a WDC from next year on.

    1. @johnrkh Yes telling his engineer to shut up and constantly snapping is damaging the assertiveness of the engineer in just situations like these, but then maybe the team should have a James Vowles who will come and say what’s what.

  5. I was with Norris. From what I could see on my Now TV broadcast (lacking all the 4K clarity others might have viewed this with) the rain seemed to just be on a few small parts of the course and I thought he could just about wing it to the end. Sadly the rain really did get heavier very quickly and by that point it was too late.

    I agreed with his decision to stay out in the heat of the moment. It just didn’t work out, but it totally could have and he’d be a hero today.

    What a race though, we all won with that one.

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