Lando Norris, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Norris surprised to finish seventh after “terrible” Belgian Grand Prix

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Lando Norris summed up his Belgian Grand Prix as “terrible” and said he was surprised to finish seventh after running near the back.

The McLaren driver warned before the race began he was likely to be vulnerable to rivals on the straights during the race due to his car’s poor straight-line speed. He was passed by a string of drivers early on, and at one point lost places to two rivals simultaneously on the Kemmel straight.

Norris described how he was unable to exploit his car’s performance in the middle part of the lap and was easily passed in the long straights of sectors one and three.

“It was terrible,” he said. “We were just stuck in a circle of not being able to push enough in the middle sector because of the cars ahead, and I was getting overtaken. People were having to lift in Eau Rouge, we were that slow, and I was getting overtaken before the DRS zone even started. So we had to try something.”

Having started on the medium tyre compound, Norris gambled on a switch to the hard rubber. “This was even worse,” he said. “No one’s used the hard all weekend, we thought normally it kind of suits us so I think it was the right decision to try, but that was still terrible.

“Again, I didn’t have enough laps to get the tyres [working] and be able to push. I got overtaken on my first lap out of the box, and then I got put behind one car so I couldn’t push in the middle sector again, and then I got overtaken two or three more times.”

His race began to improve after his second pit stop, following which he was able to run to the end.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“We put the soft on and everything came back towards us. I don’t know how I ended up P7, honestly. I felt like I was last for the most part and I ended up P7, so a little bit surprised.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix in pictures
“We need to rethink how we approach the weekend with the wing level and stuff like this, especially on a different circuit,” said Norris. “It might work on one, but it doesn’t work on all of them and we clearly got it wrong this weekend.”

He said his car felt much better during the brief period of rainfall in the middle of the race, though it never grew heavy enough for anyone to pit for intermediate tyres.

“It was lighter than I was hoping, but obviously it still helped us,” he said. “I think everyone got a bit scared and I was on the soft at the time the rain came, which I think was a perfect thing to have done which is why we boxed I think.

“But it was nothing, you get it on your visor, it looks like a lot but actually not once did it feel more slippery. So I wished it was a little bit more because I think it would have come into our hands even more.”

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Belgian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

7 comments on “Norris surprised to finish seventh after “terrible” Belgian Grand Prix”

  1. It was rather interesting to see how he first quickly dropped down the field with no pace at all, then stabilized around p16-18 and then when he put on those softs the car came alive and he showed off some great racing.

    Shame Piastri did not get much further than the first corners. But he’s not the first to try and fail, Sainz cutting harshly to the inside and locking up also had a factor in how it played out there.

    1. Honestly, I was more interested in how Piastri was going to perform this weekend. He looked more impressive than Lando, and I reckon he could have beaten Alonso to P5 had Sainz and him not tangled in the first corner. It was probably all the rain disruption and weekend format that made Mclaren drop the ball on setup this weekend. I think they’ll be more competitive for the rest of the season.

  2. I wonder how Norris will stand up to the pressure he will be getting from Piastri.
    I think the latter is starting to show glimpses of what could be a great driver.
    If he starts out performing Norris on a regular basis, it could really cause him to lose confidence.
    I was never a big fan of Zak Brown’s decision to bring Piastri into the mix. I think Norris needed a wingman such as Hülkenberg.
    We may have another Hamilton versus Alonso 2007 scenario here.
    One of these two is going to want to lead the team and not be a wingman. I don’t see these two on the same team for more than a couple of years.
    It’s going to implode sooner or later.

    1. I think that Norris and Piastri will pull each other up, as they try to pull the team up.
      What has impressed me the most about the crop of drivers over the last 6 or 7 years is the level of teamwork that they use. I don’t think that sportsmanship is quite dead, and that these young pro’s will do themselves well by not following the same cut-throat agenda. It is the new style. Of course, I expect them to give no quarter in close competition, but the days of petulant rule bending and the prima dona antics of the old days (Schumi, Senna, etc.) may be over, perhaps due to the intense scrutiny of the digital media age.
      I would bet on an explosion before an implosion.

      1. “ Iwould bet on an explosion before an implosion.”

        Isn’t one as bad as the other?

    2. I think if Zak has managed to get a driver who can make Lando’s life slightly difficult, then its a great problem for Mclaren to have. There won’t be a 2007 scenario as most likely Mclaren won’t be a front running team that are title favourites. In a best case scenario, they’l be fighting for podiums and its great to have an evenly matched line up, where either driver is in the mix ever weekend.

      1. I think Piastri is going to make Lando‘s life a lot more difficult, not a little but you could be right.
        Whether it’s for a championship or not, when you get two drivers this talented together it’s an all out war. If Piastri starts getting the edge on Norris and it might, then what?
        I think things are going to heat up because Piastri looks to be every bit as good if not better than Norris but maybe I’m jumping the gun.

Comments are closed.