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MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren looks on ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2022 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Norris: McLaren’s strategy needs to “definitely improve”

Lando reflects on his Monaco GP and McLaren's strategy calls.

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Lando Norris has spoken about his race in Monaco, expressing his frustration over some of McLaren’s strategies. 

Lando Norris in his McLaren at Monaco
Lando Norris during the Monaco Grand Prix. (Photo by Arthur Thill ATPImages/Getty Images)

McLaren had a mixed weekend in Monaco in terms of the performance of their drivers. Daniel Ricciardo is still trying to get to grips with the car whilst Lando Norris seems to be excelling, even when ill.

Ricciardo qualified 14th and only managed to make up one place in the race, finishing 13th. Norris, however, qualified fifth, behind the two Ferraris and Red Bulls. During the race, he moved down one place to sixth but was very close to George Russell in front, who continued his streak of top-five finishes in every race.

It was during his second pitstop, where he changed to the hard-compound tyres, that Russell overtook the McLaren, pushing Norris into sixth. He kept these tyres on, much like Ferrari did, after the red flag caused by Mick Schumacher. Many other drivers, however, opted to use a set of new medium-compound tyres. Russell, as well as the Red Bulls, made this decision.

With the design of the Monaco street circuit, overtaking opportunities are very limited, if not near impossible. Norris remained in sixth for the rest of the race, but it was not without a debate with his engineer.

Norris’ Comments

When Fernando Alonso held up the pack, effectively creating a train of cars from seventh to 17th, Norris wanted to push. He wanted to put pressure on Russell as he didn’t need to worry about Alonso gaining on him from behind. Norris said over the radio:

“I’m obviously under no threat from behind, right? So surely I can just push now and try and make him make a mistake ahead?’ If you don’t want me to push what the hell am I meant to do, just sit here?”

In response, his engineer told him that “the key thing” is to have “some rubber left on the tyre” in case “rain came towards the end”. During the final stages of the race, the young Brit made another pitstop. This time he switched to medium-compound tyres and because Alonso had slowed up so significantly, Norris pitted and came out ahead of the Spaniard.

The end of the race saw Norris just behind Russell as the chequered flag was waved and helped him gain the fastest lap. He commented saying that “it was a good race” despite losing on position to Mercedes. However, he knows “that happens sometimes in these conditions” and it’s all about taking the risk even if you “lose from it”.

George Russell battles with Lando Norris during the Monaco GP. (Photo by Zak Mauger / LAT Images)
McLaren’s Strategy

When speaking about McLaren’s strategy and their performance, Norris said:

“I think we may be lacking a little bit of race pace in the tyre preservation and things, I don’t think we’re in the best position with all of this. But apart from that a good race, good points, which I’m happy with.” asked the McLaren driver about the frustration in his radio calls. Norris admitted that the team need to talk because he doesn’t “think [they] did a perfect job”. He said “there’s always things to work on and improve on. Something for us to talk about back behind the scenes, and back in the MTC, and not something to talk about now. But yeah, things to definitely improve on from that side.”

Monaco is a very difficult track and strategy plays a major part in the race. Norris noted that “it’s just never an easy thing” in Monaco, but the team are “in a good position, and [they] have good points”, so “it’s easy to” not “risk too much”. So far, after seven rounds of the season, McLaren are fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 59 points.

Norris understands that the team “did everything for good reasons and said everything for good reasons”, but his “feeling inside the car” of them potentially having “much better pace if [they] box”, is “not easy to get across” to them.

He finished saying that the team “normally do a very good job”, so he isn’t complaining, just highlighting that they have “got a bit of work to do.”

The Next Round

The eighth round of the 2022 season takes Formula 1 to Azerbaijan where the drivers will race on the streets of Baku. Last year, Norris had a good race there as he finished fifth. Ricciardo also had a successful race as he finished within the points in ninth.

The two will be looking to replicate their 2021 points finishes, especially Ricciardo after having some unsuccessful races this year. Hopefully Norris will be fully recovered from Tonsillitis for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as well.

Feature Image Credit: GettyImages

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