Lando Norris, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Norris says “balls out” pole lap was his best ever “by a long way”

Formula 1

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Lando Norris said the lap which earned him pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix was one of the best of his career.

The McLaren driver has taken pole three times before in F1 – once for a grand prix at Sochi in 2021, and twice for sprint races. But he said an extra effort was needed to wrest the top spot away from Max Verstappen with his final run in Q3 today.

“Poles always feel good, and it’s the second one in my career – I’ve had two sprint race poles, but I don’t regard that at all as a pole position so this is the second one of my career. It’s been a while since Sochi, all the way back then.

“It feels great. It was an amazing lap. Honestly, it was my best lap by a long way. I pretty much put the whole lap together.

“I got a nice slipstream. I think probably my best corner around the lap, every single part of it put together.”

Verstappen led much of the qualifying session. He was quickest in Q1 until Lewis Hamilton beat his time with a second run on new soft tyres. Verstappen then headed Q2 and was quickest after the first runs in Q3. Norris said he “knew I had to kind of do something perfect in Q3 to do it – and that’s exactly what I did.

“So I’m pretty happy that I managed to pull off probably my best lap that I’ve done ever.”

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Mercedes and Ferrari also appeared to have the pace to challenge for pole position going into today’s qualifying session. Norris said he took more risks on his final run to ensure he came out on top.

“I don’t think any practice was split by more than a tenth between the top five,” he said. “So I was expecting the same as that, and I think it was.

“Probably Max was always two-and-a-half tenths ahead of everyone, both Q1 and Q2 in the runs we did. And we did three runs, four runs in the end altogether, so you do four laps throughout the whole of qualifying, but every time I was missing a little bit to Max and a lot of it was high-speed.

“So I knew for the final lap I’ve got to go balls out and do it. And I managed to get that little bit, that two-hundredths, three-hundredths, four-hundredths that I was needing to get out of Max, I managed to get. So I’m happy the risks paid off and for all of it to come together when I needed it most was great.”

However he admitted there were probably some small details of his lap he could have improved.

“I’m probably going to get back and Jarv, my engineer, is going to tell me that I’ve messed something up. But I think it’s so tricky nowadays, with the car and the tyres, and we’re pushing so much, just to put everything together.

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“You might be able to do half of it once and half of it another or mix it up, but to kind of put all of it right at that limit is very tricky and I’m sure every driver would say the same. So very rewarding when you do and when you do it and end up on pole because of it, it’s even sweeter.”

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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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5 comments on “Norris says “balls out” pole lap was his best ever “by a long way””

  1. Not particularly hygienic but… whatever gets you pole position I guess.

    1. Comment of the day surely!!!!

  2. RBR had amazing race pace in practice. I’m not optimistic for him. But then he’s got Verstappen and Hamilton reunited and maybe it they can occupy each other with old quarrels while he gets away.

  3. It is clear this qualifying was about using ones tires up the optimum point on the track. One could burn them up in sector 1 and struggle through sector 3, or one could save the tires in sector 1 and go balls out in sector 3.
    It seems we don’t even have proper qualifying tires anymore.

    1. True, I heard something like this from the ferrari drivers.

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