Lando Norris, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2023

Norris “making so many mistakes on Saturday at the minute” after Q3 error

Formula 1

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Lando Norris was characteristically self-critical after an error in his final qualifying lap ended his hopes of taking pole position in Abu Dhabi.

The McLaren driver had put together competitive laps up until that point. In Q2 he lapped 0.18 seconds eventual pole-winner Verstappen, and appeared to be in with a chance of taking pole.

Norris told his team on his radio he was “pretty happy” with his Q2 lap. But after doing his first run in Q3 on used tyres, Norris spoiled his subsequent run on new rubber when he skidded over the kerbs between turns 13 and 14.

The error through the hotel section cost Norris a significant amount of time. It left him fifth on the grid, 0.371 seconds off Verstappen’s pole time.

Asked if the mistake would haunt him, Norris said: “I don’t know. If it was for P1, maybe but I don’t think it would’ve been P1. But you never know.

“And, okay, if you just make any mistake in qualifying when you’re fighting for a good position it’s frustrating. But the thing is, I just make so many mistakes on Saturday at the minute.”

He said the error was especially frustrating as qualifying had gone so well up to that point. “Every other lap, in Q1, Q2, were some of my best laps. My first lap in Q3 was very strong.

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“It’s just this one little mistake. I don’t know why it happened, I’ve not done that all weekend. So it’s just frustrating.”

Norris, who tends to be quite strong with his public self-criticism, denied he is unnecessarily hard on himself. “Not at all,” he insisted. “If I’m fighting for P2 and I end up P5 I’m too soft on myself.”

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella, however, doubts Norris’ error cost him pole position. “Based on the GPS data we can see that Verstappen was still ahead of Lando,” said Stella. “So realistically, that could have been close to pole position, but very likely was not sufficient.”

Stella was reluctant to blame his driver for the error. “It’s often difficult to understand what is the driving element compared to – is there an engineering element, is there a characteristic on the car that just makes it so peaky, so unpredictable in some circumstances?”

In their debrief, McLaren has noticed that “recently we have had some driving issues that looked to be more frequent than normal,” said Stella. He said that might be down to “possibly the car losing too much grip, too rapidly, in some conditions.”

“This is a hypothesis,” Stella added. “This is nothing to do with the evidence. But you kind of work by a hypothesis so that you can look into the data, look into the information with a key.

“That’s certainly the key that we will be using in the coming days to look into what are we learning from these situations.”

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2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
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...

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7 comments on “Norris “making so many mistakes on Saturday at the minute” after Q3 error”

  1. Some great driving on the edge. I know they are mistakes but he was giving everything to take poll.

    1. Exactly. Surely we WANT drivers to have to push to the limit in qualifying if they have a chance to get to the front!

  2. For all the good work Lando has done in his 5 seasons at McLaren if keeps passing up these win and pole opportunities when they present themselves people will start to wonder is he destined to be a proverbial choker. Piastri winning a full Grand Prix before would I fear really damage Lando mentally and I don’t want want to see Lando become a shell of hmself. Lando hasn’t won any competitive race since the opening round of the 2018 Formula 2 season in Bahrain . NNot winning a race for five years in any catergory must be affecting him. Lando needs to take setbacks more on the in his stride and less to heart.

  3. Feel like Lando’s being pushed for the first time in his career with high expectations. Mistakes creeping in as Oscar pushes him, especially on tracks Oscar has raced in F2. This is gonna show what Lando is truly made of & the potential he has.

    1. He’s been around long enough now, should be cleaning up these errors by now… If he can’t then you have got to say he’s not going to be elite, very good but not elite.
      There’s still time though

  4. And it will only get worse.

  5. I really don’t think he’s got too much to worry about. People harp on about the winless thing. He’s got a stack of podiums in a very dominant era. He’s beaten the life out of Piastri in this last third of season. He’s in top 5 racers in F1 at the moment, possibly top 3 in my opinion. Wins will come.

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