Lando Norris, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Norris relieved with seventh after ‘completely destroying the floor’ in Q1

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris considers himself lucky to have qualified seventh for the Belgian Grand Prix after suffering floor damage in Q1.

The two McLarens secured sixth and and seventh place in qualifying at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, with Oscar Piastri ahead of his team mate. Max Verstappen’s five-place grid penalty means he will split the McLaren drivers on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Norris had an early scare in Q1 when he ran wide at the exit of Stavelot, bouncing over the gravel at 200kph and then hitting a patch of asphalt run-off which caused parts of carbon fibre to fly off his car.

After asking race engineer Will Joseph if he had damaged his MCL60, he was informed: “Yes, Lando, we have significant rear damage”. Despite this, Norris progressed to Q3 and eventually qualified just behind his team mate in seventh.

“I’m really happy – well, I mean, let’s say ‘frustrated’,” he told Sky after the session. “I went off in Q1 and completely destroyed the floor, so I’m happy to have made it to Q3 and only be a couple of tenths off what Oscar did.

“I think he did a good job. His middle sector was very strong. We’re very poor in the straights, so there’s wins and losses. But I’m happy. It could have been a lot worse, I could have been out in Q1. So I’ll take P7.”

Norris credited his team for the work they carried out between sessions to repair the car to allow him to stay competitive over the rest of qualifying. He believes McLaren are more competitive than they appeared.

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“They did a good job getting as much as they can fixed,” he said, “but I think [it was] too much to be competitive today.

“I don’t think we’re bad. I think if we had a car that was together, if I didn’t make a mistake in Q1, we could have had maybe a slightly better day. We weren’t miles off the guys ahead, but I’m happy I got what I did out of it. So I guess ‘frustrating’ just because it was pretty close between us and some of the others, but hopefully tomorrow we can turn it into a better result.”

His team mate Piastri said he felt he had not got the most from his car in qualifying, but was still satisfied with taking fifth on the grid for Sunday’s race.

“I felt very comfortable when the conditions were really tricky like that,” said the rookie.

“I think in some ways, the track drying up and becoming closer to normal was a hindrance for me, because I’ve not done a dry lap around here in a F1 car. So for braking points and stuff like that, especially when off-line, it’s wet, you never want to brake too late and I think that’s where I left quite a bit on the table, unfortunately. So still a decent result.”

Piastri believes that McLaren will be able to challenge their rivals who are starting ahead of them during the grand prix.

“I think here is a track where you can overtake, you can make quite a difference with that,” he said. “So we’ll see what we can do.

“We’ve obviously still got another qualifying and the sprint to go, but I think we can be confident.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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3 comments on “Norris relieved with seventh after ‘completely destroying the floor’ in Q1”

  1. A rare mistake with a big consequence, funny, how lighting does strike twice in the same place

    Never mind, at least the car was working well, time to do it again tomorrow, and a long race on Sunday to make up for it (touch wood)

  2. It’s really nice to hear McLaren drivers frustrated with a qualifying like they had today. A few races ago and they would have been jumping for joy.

  3. They have clearly rolled the dice and have a more wet biased set up than their direct rivals. If the track is dry for the race, they should be quick enough for decent points but a bit of a sitting duck in sector 1 and 3, but if it rains…. They’re going to be a big threat.

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