Lando Norris, McLaren, Zandvoort, 2023

Norris: McLaren have reviewed mistakes after “stupid” radio remark to engineer

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris says McLaren have reviewed their “mistakes” from the Dutch Grand Prix after he was left out on slick tyres on a wet track at the start.

Despite starting from second on the grid, Norris finished seventh in last weekend’s race after McLaren asked him to stay out on track on slick tyres during the first rain shower at the start of the race.

While most of the field pitted for intermediates on either the first or second lap, Norris remained on track on lap three, struggling for grip on his soft dry tyres. As he was overtaken by cars who had pitted, Norris had a tense exchange with his engineer Jose Manuel Lopez.

“Rain has stopped, Lando,” Lopez said. “We don’t expect any rain in the next 15 minutes.”

“I know,” Norris replied. “I’m saying it’s not going to dry out any time soon, either.”

“Do you need the inters?,” Lopez asked. “If you cannot keep the can on the corners, we will box. If you can keep it on track…” he trailed off as Norris was overtaken through the penultimate corner by Zhou Guanyu, who had stopped at the end of the opening lap for intermediates.

“Box, mate. We’re too slow,” Norris asked.

“We are faster than inters cars,” Lopez insisted.

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“What the f-,” exclaimed Norris. “Are you stupid?,” he said, before diving into the pit lane to fit intermediate tyres.

Asked about the exchange ahead of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Norris insisted he had cleared up the matter with his team.

“We just spoke about it a bit now,” Norris said. “As always it was just a few days of reviewing things and making sure we look at things first.

“I always say things.. when you look at it after, I always make myself look like an idiot, and I get that. But the people that I speak to know that I would never mean something like that, of course. It’s more we made some mistakes with our calls and strategy and things like that.”

Norris said the way he came across over the radio was not reflective of him being actively upset with his team.

“A bit of it is just emotions at the time,” he said. “I think I said the other day, I always sound like I’m crying or I’m moaning on the radio – I don’t know why – I hate it. I feel like I’m really relaxed and chilled in the car, but then I’m always the opposite when I listen to myself after.

“There’s just always discussions, I guess. There’s always things that you’re trying to tell them and information that you’re trying to get, but it’s just a couple of times when the information was not to the level that it should have been, clearly, then I guess it gets a little bit frustrating a couple of times. But it’s stuff we’ve reviewed and definitely won’t happen again.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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13 comments on “Norris: McLaren have reviewed mistakes after “stupid” radio remark to engineer”

  1. Mercedes and Mclaren came out real bad out of these laps. “It stoppeed raining, stay out” going 10s a lap slower than those on inters, as if the water on the track would just evaporate after that.

    1. Yes, true, I was thinking the same during the race, because thinking about all the recent qualis, starting q1 on intermediate conditions often results in intermediate q2 too and slicks only start making sense in q3, and when you factor into the wait times between quali sessions, that is A LOT of time losing many seconds a lap on slicks during a race.

      1. It’s not the time, it’s the number of cars passing that evacuate most water. That being said, there were two options: Come in ASAP or stay out all the way if you dare. Everything else is wrong.
        Even if they would’ve lost 40 seconds in those laps, they would have gained on those that stopped twice.

        1. Albon did that and it didn’t pay off even after everybody came for slicks again.
          He lost a lot of ground and positions to people behind him and was left with much worse tyres. It only wasn’t worse because Mclaren and Mercedes fumbled the call completely and the Safety Car brought him back to the race.

          1. They did that with Piastri too, he stayed on slicks and when he started pumping in fastest laps then all the others pitted for slicks.

        2. 40 seconds are still less than losing 10 sec a lap for all those laps we had on intermediate conditions.

          1. The truth of it is that Albon and Piastri ended up losing a bit over 20 seconds overall due to their no-stop strategy. So the gamble was not worth the risk of them skidding off. But I think that was a slightly quicker strategy than staying out and bottling it with a very late switch to the inters, as done by I think Hamilton and Norris.

            To be fair, the engineer telling Norris that they were faster than those on inters *was* stupid. If he’d instead said that it was a faster *overall* strategy, it’d turn out to be wrong in the end, but at the time was not so clear cut.

  2. Oscar Wilde said it best, “the man who would call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one”
    (This is a bona fide quote from The Portrait of Dorian Grey, not one of the thousands of fake OW quotes circulating around)

  3. At that moment, neither driver nor team has the complete picture of what’s happening. The team and driver need to communicate with eachother at crucial moments, when the weather is changing, when the pace of cars around them varies, or when a decision about switching tyres needs to be made. Obviously the team suggesting that Lando staying out was ridiculous from Lando’s perspective, but it wasn’t obvious from theirs.

    All of that said, I dont know why there’s the expectation that drivers should be completely emotionless when talking to their team in the middle of the race, particularly when they’re in a tricky situation. The driver must be going through all sorts of emotions when trying to perform at their very best, when the conditions are super challenging… but then we expect them to be monotone and calm.

    Lando says he sounds like he’s moaning on the radio, but I actually think it’s just his natural tone of voice when he says something louder or in a more forceful way. Tsunoda copped alot of flack for being to fiesty on the radio in previous years as well. Let the drivers express their emotion in the cockpit!

  4. Don’t judge a driver about his radio comments at the heat of the moment. Image we are able to hear what football players shout at each other. In the heat of the moment, with adrenaline pumping, you say things that you wish you formulated differently.

    1. To be honest this is one of those times when the driver sounds entirely reasonable to be annoyed, Lando was right to be so blunt, it made it clear immediately how wrong the call was, there was no time for a back and forth discussion.

      1. Absolutely. At the exact moment his engineer said that the guys on inters was slower, he was literally passed by 3 cars on inters in a single corner.

        So yes, his “wtf” reaction was very understandable 😄

  5. When I watched the race on Sky I was screaming at the Gogglebox to pit him for Inters – it was obvious from the timing screen that the the Swappers were going a lot faster, and the longer the lap went on Norris was going backwards as fast as everyone else going forward.
    It was a huge missed opportunity for him to maintain a top three place, and his subsequent race pace meant he was always going to be playing catch up with no chance of actually getting that much pace out of the car.

    What I’d like to know is, what was his Engineer watching while all this was going on …. was it timing screens ? …. or some coverage of the race itself, because he must have been looking at something, and every Sky Customer must have come to the same conclusion as myself, that he needed to box along with everyone else and maintain his position – later forecasts were irrelevant on a weekend with high air/water content and not hot enough that it would dry up quickly.

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