Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit of the Americas, 2023

Norris suspects turn 11 error cost him chance to take pole position

Formula 1

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Lando Norris said he was “pleasantly surprised” to qualify on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, but admitted he could have done even better.

McLaren expected the Circuit of the Americas would show up their car’s weaknesses more than some previous tracks did. However after Max Verstappen lost his fastest lap time in Q3 due to a track limits infringement, Norris moved onto the front row of the grid alongside pole-winner Charles Leclerc.

Norris admitted his car produced a more competitive lap time than he expected. “When you realise where Max probably should have been in terms of overall pace, I still think the Red Bull is probably close to being the quickest,” he said. “I didn’t expect to beat Ferrari, so I think we’re in probably the position we expected to be.

“We’re probably closer to pole than I was expecting. I think there was still that little chance to potentially get it today.”

He said he was “pleasantly surprised to be sitting here in the top three, first of all, but then especially in P2” after qualifying. “So a good day for us.

“A little bit surprising because we know mainly the slow speeds are normally a big weakness for us and there’s less high speed here comparing to Qatar and things like that.”

Having got closer to pole position than he expected, Norris admitted he could see where the chance to take it had passed him by.

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“If I just did a good lap, maybe that could have been pole,” he said. “I just made a few mistakes.

“I’m sure a lot of people made mistakes today, it’s not an easy track to put it all together. Just bad Tarmac in areas and slippery and wind in certain corners, bumps, just a lot of things going on. So still to be sitting here I’m happy with that.”

He said a minor error at turn 11 probably cost him the 0.13 seconds which separated him from Leclerc. “Turn 11 is where it all went wrong, and maybe a little bit the last corner,” he explained.

“Turn 11, we’ve been struggling a little bit with the consistency of car and braking performance. The car just turned a bit better than I was expecting. I braked later but then the car also rotated better.

“I was expecting to almost miss the apex a bit more and I ended up just clipping the kerb. When you clip the kerb in 11, it’s the run the whole way down the straight that you lose. So it’s just a half-a-tenth mistake initially because you get on power a bit later, but then because you get on power later, you lose easily another half-a-tenth or sometimes more all the way down to turn 12.

“The rest of the lap, apart from maybe the last corner, was, I think, very strong. I was very happy with turn one and sector one. Just two places I feel like I probably lost it today.”

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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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3 comments on “Norris suspects turn 11 error cost him chance to take pole position”

  1. Leclerc made the same error, both clouted the apex at the hairpin, so it’s a net non-inprovement.

  2. Actually thinking about it, P2 has proven to be quite a good place to start at COTA. I was looking back, and P2 comes out of T1 in the lead in 50% of all races here, including all bar 2 since 2015 (2016 and 2019 being the exceptions). Lando may yet find he’s where he wants to be on Sunday!

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