(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Lando Norris, McLaren, Silverstone, 2023

Norris “a little bit surprised” to join Verstappen on front row

2023 British Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says McLaren’s performance in qualifying for the British Grand Prix wasn’t a total shock after claiming a place on the front row of the grid.

He held pole position in the dying seconds of Q3, until Max Verstappen produced a quicker time to deny Norris pole position at his home race. However Oscar Piastri backed Norris up to take third place on the grid, giving McLaren their strongest starting positions of the season.

After setting the provisional pole position time, Norris said he was watching the television screens around the circuit to discover if Verstappen would beat it.

“There’s a lot of TV screens around the circuit so I was trying to watch every single one possible,” he said. “I was surprised how long I was at the top for. But it just kind of depended on when Max was going to cross the line.”

Norris, whose best starting position until this weekend was third on the grid in Spain, said he was “a little bit surprised” to claim second.

“I wasn’t expecting for us to be here or for myself to be here anyway,” said Norris. “I think we’re very happy with the result but it was more if Max made a mistake than if we were quicker than him. He’s doing a very good job, the team are doing a very good job from his side.

“I put a good lap in, no mistakes, it was a much clearer run than my Q3 run one. But it was a good quali. I think P1 in Q1, P1 in Q2 and almost P1 in Q3 but not quite so I’m still happy with that.”

McLaren brought a significant upgrade to the previous race in Austria, which only Norris was able to use. Both drivers had the benefit of the update this weekend, as well as further parts.

Although Norris didn’t have a smooth run through practice, he said the team was confident it could produce a good result in qualifying.

“I don’t think the expectations were low,” he said. “I guess in qualifyings like this when it’s wet, dry, it’s always very difficult to anticipate what’s going to happen in the whole thing. Some quicker cars were knocked out earlier on so I think that opened up some opportunities for us to be sitting here.

“But my Friday just wasn’t that great. FP3 was obviously a bit tricky with the conditions, so I didn’t have the most confidence all weekend, but I managed to pull it out when it matters, so I’m happy with that.”

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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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7 comments on “Norris “a little bit surprised” to join Verstappen on front row”

  1. It’s great to see the McLarens at the front.

    I can’t help but wonder how fast their car really is right now. We know Verstappen is a great driver – almost certainly quicker than Piastri. We know the Red Bull has a great DRS – almost certainly more beneficial than McLaren’s. So car-for-car… was the McLaren actually #1 today?

    Tomorrow could be juicy. Another win for Max still has to be the smart money, but I’ll be cheering on Lando and Oscar all the same

    1. This lap comparison video is interesting. In sections 1 and 2, the Red Bull’s only advantage was when DRS was out. In section 3, Max seemed overall quicker, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYRrSBcLYrA

  2. If we get at least one McLaren on the podium then I’ll be very happy.

    1. From what I saw in austria, ferrari still were quite a bit faster, and mercedes looks like they might be quick too here in the race, but we’ll see, there’s been races in recent years where mclaren were really competitive, such as russia 2021: without the rain in the end, norris had a serious chance to hold hamilton back in 2nd place (and even with the rain had they made the same strategic choice).

      1. And let’s not forget about monza 2021, where ricciardo was on course to win even without the hamilton-verstappen crash.

  3. Very nice to see mclaren doing well as someone who started watching in the late 90s, I was open mouthed when norris got pole but then noticed verstappen could still do a lap and he delivers consistently, so wasn’t surprised to see he got pole back, however the others were very close to verstappen’s first lap, so norris’ lap was still surprising.

    Piastri did well too, mclaren seem to have a really strong line up.

    We’ll have to see in the race indeed, but what I saw in austria was good.

  4. It’s fantastic what McL have been able to do with their cars, as even copying the outside shape of the RB doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be a winner, because there are a whole lotta parts underneath to get right at the same time, and you can’t see them to do any similar mods.
    Which means I’m super thrilled at what has transpired at McL as well as at Williams, and all we need is Lewis & Russel back in the mix and we have a truly good chance of having a few stunning races left in the season.
    Having Ferrari up there at the sharp end at the same time means we’ll end up with a great chance of the remaining races being a game of musical chairs (depending on only the Weather and the Circuit) which we haven’t had since RBR started their climb, and even then it was generally a two horse race.

    As far as Piastri is concerned, he might well end up being just as much a place taker as any of the others, so Rando Nollis might well have to have eyes in the back of his head for now and in the future.

    So well done McL you’re back where you belong and the comment that Hamilton made about Norris being a Champ in the making may well be that much nearer. :)

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