Lando Norris, McLaren, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021

McLaren “a long way off the pace” as weekend proves tougher than expected

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In the round-up: Lando Norris says McLaren have to hope for a big overnight discovery to become competitive around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

In brief

“Not a great day” for McLaren after lack of pace

Norris said Friday at the Mexican Grand Prix had been “not been a great day” for McLaren after ending practice in 12th place.

“We struggled a lot in FP1 and were quite a long way off the pace,” he said. “It’s definitely turning out to be a bit more difficult than we were expecting coming here. Last [time] we weren’t necessarily great, but we still had a good qualifying. But our low fuel pace and even high fuel pace was quite a long way off today.

“So there’s definitely some work to do overnight to try and make some progress. I’m confident we can do it and I think we have some good directions to go in from the tests we did today.”

Qualifying especially important in Mexico – Perez

Sergio Perez says the difficulty of overtaking this weekend will make qualifying well especially important.

The Red Bull driver arrives at his home race having finished on the podium at the last two races. “I really want to carry on my form and I’m feeling more more at home now with the team, with the car,” he said. “I really hope I can put a great Saturday here.

“Overtaking is generally very hard here, we put a lot of demand on the brakes, on the engine. It’s always a very tricky race if you’re not at the front so I look forward to a good qualifying.”

Verstappen: request for Perez to cover Hamilton “logical”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021
After Verstappen pitted, he urged his team to do the same with Perez
Max Verstappen explained his role in the timing of his team mate’s first pit stop during the United States Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver urged his team to pit Sergio Perez in order to force Mercedes to respond by bringing Lewis Hamilton in.

“You should force Hamilton not to go long with Checo,” Verstappen told his team.

Verstappen declined to confirm whether the scenario had been discussed before the race when asked by RaceFans. “For me it was just a logical thing to think about.

“You just don’t want them to have a massive tyre advantage, and we have two cars up there, so you should use that advantage.”

Saucy to make F3 debut with ART

Gregoire Saucy will make his FIA Formula 3 debut with ART next year having won the Formula Regional Europe championship with them this season. He tested for the team at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit earlier this week.

“ART Grand Prix was very keen to take another step forward with Greg,” said team principal Sebastien Philippe. “He showed the full extent of his talent and maturity in 2021 and in addition to this, we have come to know and appreciate each other both personally and sportingly.”

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Comment of the day

Antonio Giovinazzi’s position at Alfa Romeo is the final block to fall in place for the 2022 grid – Andrew T considers what the last blocks to confirming or denying him an extension would be.

I believe that the delaying of the announcement is an indication that Alfa Romeo tries to have someone in their car, that is problematic to negotiate with (or with his management) due to ties to other teams and interests.

Giovinazzi or Hülkenberg would be an easy case and could have been announced months ago if Alfa Romeo wanted to go down this way. Zhou and de Vries and their Renault and Mercedes background respectively generate the issues.

Giovinazzi has shown everything a team has to know about him to decide if he deserves another year or not. Beating Räikkönen in qualifying on a regular basis sounds good, but staring at the Finn’s rear wing right after the start or at the end of the first lap pretty sums how much outqualifying Räikkönen worth.

Gio is a nice guy, I’d certainly miss him, but considering the sheer number of young talents knocking on the door of F1, I just don’t see him retained for another season. I also don’t think that’s fair from the team’s side that they keep him waiting and hoping, not that there are any more seats left that he could have targeted.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to A.S. Mahesh, Claudio Sampaio, Flowerdew and Hawksfan!

On this day in motorsport

  • 40 years ago today the FIA International Court of Appeal upheld its ban on Colin Chapman’s radical, twin-chassis Lotus 88 (again) and the 88B as well

Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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7 comments on “McLaren “a long way off the pace” as weekend proves tougher than expected”

  1. That’s a very impressive application ‘letter’ by David Penner.

  2. Difficult to see Hamilton closing the points gap to Verstappen given the remaining races. Surely some twists and turns to come but all in all it’s been a very enjoyable season and we’ve been thoroughly spoiled. Verstappen has been imperious and has turned me from a skeptic to a fan. Sprint races notwithstanding, and whatever the result, this season has reminded me why I love the sport.

  3. I’m reading David Penner’s publication. It’s incredible what a community can do when given the chance… a big company makes a move and releases a usable 3D model without even knowing and people get inside it, retrieve the model and use it for something like this.

    Really impressive.

  4. Not in his hands, though, given his super license situation, but all this is irrelevant now since he won’t race in F1 next season anyway.

    Zhou, not really as Budkowski said in Russia, Alpine wouldn’t block their drivers if an opportunity arose in another team.
    I still reckon Zhou will eventually become Bottas’ teammate, followed by Shwartzman if the former doesn’t.

  5. I’d argue that Giovinazzi deserves at least another season

  6. Bournemouth is bidding for an e-prix, well that’s unexpected! I read in that article that it is up against Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool though so I think it’s chances are slim.

    Out of those, Liverpool gets my vote. Set a course around the Echo Arena and Albert Dock, that would make for a great backdrop.

  7. Bournemouth E Prix; as a local I would certainly appreciate this but 2 things;
    1) that article has a lot of comments and most are negative so I doubt it would go down well,
    2) the route, uses a major road in the town and as one commenter said:
    ‘ Not sure how the track layout would work for Formula E, at 3.5miles ish it is quite long, for comparison the extended circuit used for Monaco in 2021 was 2 miles, most tracks are only 1.5 miles’
    I check the distance and they are right, loads longer than current tracks!

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