Lando Norris, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

McLaren “easily good enough for a front row” without mistakes – Norris

Formula 1

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Lando Norris believes he threw away a potential front row start for the Bahrain Grand Prix after a mistake on his final lap in Q3.

The McLaren driver will line up seventh on the grid for the opening race of the season, one place ahead of team mate Oscar Piastri on the fourth row.

It is McLaren’s best qualifying performance in Bahrain in three years following back-to-back poor starts to the season in 2022 and 2023. Despite being less than half a second away from Max Verstappen’s pole time and ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, Norris admitted he failed to extract the maximum from his car.

“I messed up sector one,” Norris explained. “I just had a little oversteer on the exit of turn one, just as I came on the throttle, and it cost me easily one-and-a-half tenths. And one-and-a-half tenths today was P2. So it’s frustrating.”

After sensing he had lost time through the opening corners, Norris says he tried to gain back the time lost, which caused him to make more errors.

“I felt like I wanted to push a bit more,” he said. “Wrong thing to do.

“I paid the price again in turn four and made another couple mistakes. The rest of the lap was there or thereabouts. But honestly the car was easily good enough for a front row.”

Despite feeling like he left time on the track, Norris was encouraged by how the new MCL38 has evolved positively over the weekend so far.

“I’m disappointed, therefore, I didn’t deliver for it, but the team’s done a great job,” Norris said. “The car’s feeling amazing. So I’m happy with that.

“Things have come together very well over the weekend. I just didn’t deliver, so. A bit of a shame, but I’ll try to make up for it tomorrow.”

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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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21 comments on “McLaren “easily good enough for a front row” without mistakes – Norris”

  1. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    1st March 2024, 19:45

    Sick of the constant mistakes and excuses from Norris. Just deliver.

    1. Stephen Taylor
      1st March 2024, 19:57

      Easy for for you to criticise behind a keyboard . He was just 4 tenths off pole.

      1. But he isn’t paid $20m per year to drive. And four-tenths is a lot. That’s what Norris is paid to do and he’s had more racing experience than dozens of famous F1 drivers.

    2. He keeps making mistakes, seems nothing changed. Just like Perez 3.0

  2. This is definitely a trend now for Norris. He makes too many mistakes in qualifying.

  3. Stephen Taylor
    1st March 2024, 19:55

    It is easy for you to sit behind a keyboard and say that.

  4. Has to be the biggest bottler in the last two seasons. No wonder he doesn’t want to drive next to Max even if he has the speed. He would crash worse than Perez given his inability to handle any pressure..

    1. Stephen Taylor
      1st March 2024, 20:06

      Give over. He has done a lot of good things in his career.

      1. Are you OK?

  5. It’s very rare for a driver to have a faultless lap. They all lose a tiny bit here and there, and they know it, either immediately or afterwards after reviewing things.

    Norris has the right idea; he’s trying to praise the team. But he’s not doing anyone any favors by creating this story around himself where he’s constantly emphasizing his own mistakes. That stuff sticks to people, and it can influence their performance.

    Just say you’re not entirely happy but have confidence, and move on. Keep the details private.

    1. All these drivers are perfectionists who wouldn’t have gotten here if they didn’t get upset over every little mistake they make. That said, I agree that Norris (and also Leclerc) are not doing themselves any favors by harping on it too much in front of the media.

  6. Hakk the Rack
    1st March 2024, 20:09

    Mistakes? Again?

  7. Stephen Taylor
    1st March 2024, 20:25

    What a very boring Bernie-era way of thinking. You are wrong this is refreshing honesty. He was was 4 tenhs off pole which most years would be good enough for a top 5 start at worst

  8. Wrong . Honesty is good.

  9. It makes an interesting perspective of where McLaren might be if they also show good race pace, over the course of the entire race, in which ‘Q3 hick-ups of a driver’ plays less of a role.

  10. At least he is honest enough not hide behind silly excuses. Norris & Charles are very honest drivers in their comments.

    1. Even verstappen.

  11. Agree, the car has front row pace, and considering the unfortunate last stint given Bahrain is not McLaren’s optimal track I think they might have a podium chance tomorrow, just hope the race pace is there and tyre degradation is limited.

  12. I don’t know f it is the same for all cars, but with the onboard of Norris, the engine at times sounded absolutely dreadful. I wasn’t sure if itwas the engine or the car bottoming out but either way it doesn’t sound great.

  13. Verstappen and Leclerc also made mistakes in Q3.

  14. Some things never change.

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