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Norris rues ‘wrong decision’ that cost McLaren at Zandvoort

McLaren saw its chances of a podium finish vanish during the first deluge of rain

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Lando Norris has reflected on a race of missed opportunities for McLaren after its strong qualifying performance fell away in the race. 

Lando Norris staged a comeback drive through the field at Zandvoort (Image Credit: @McLarenF1 on Twitter)
Lando Norris staged a comeback drive through the field at Zandvoort (Image Credit: @McLarenF1 on Twitter)

Both driver and team were optimistic following a strong qualifying session that saw Lando Norris start on the front row. Unable to pass polesitter Max Verstappen at the start of the race, he and McLaren aimed for the podium.

However, the sudden downpour of rain in the opening laps led to disaster. McLaren opted not to pit Norris for several laps, believing the rain would soon stop. But intermediate tyres were required with the track now wet, and Norris fell rapidly down the order when he eventually pitted.

Emerging in P12, Norris fought hard to move up the order, battling with both Mercedes drivers and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. His efforts were rewarded with a P7 finish.

Costly pit call

Speaking to after the race, Norris admitted the call by McLaren to stay out when the rain first came down was “wrong. He also said that the team should be performing better, despite the positive aspects of the race:

“Wrong decision. [We] just made the wrong decision at the beginning. I guess it happens, but at the same time, [we] should be doing a slightly better job than we did today.

“Some good things of course – I don’t want to say it is all negative. Some points on the board, it wasn’t a shocking race. A lot of it was good – the pit stop for the second bit of rain was good, so some good things. Just the first one was a bad decision and cost us a lot of places.”

Norris confirmed when asked that his rise through the field was a positive, but called out “struggles” in the second sector: “A little bit, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked. I couldn’t overtake half the time just because we were so bad in the middle sector.”

“I think we expected it that’s why I was nervous coming into the race today. What I thought was right – we were going to struggle in certain places. Some places we were good, and if we were in clean air, I think we would’ve been relatively all right.”

Norris also confirmed that Mercedes were faster than McLaren in Zandvoort: “But I think the Mercedes was on another level compared to us today. Their tyre deg is always better, they have good front end on the car, and that’s what we probably lacked on a day like today.”

Piastri unhappy

Teammate Oscar Piastri also endured a challenging race, calling the afternoon “difficult”. Finishing P9, he also had to battle his way back from lower down the order, although he chose not to pit during the first few laps: “Definitely a difficult afternoon that’s for sure. I think maybe a few decisions that we would make differently if we had them the second time.”

“Also, from myself a couple of mistakes that maybe didn’t destroy our race but certainly didn’t help it. I think obviously we wanted to finish a bit higher than where we have, and we will have a look at what we could have done a bit better.”

“But we kept the car on the track, managed to get both cars in the points at the end, so not our best afternoon but could have been a lot worse.”

Piastri also praised rivals Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly’s podium finishes when asked if McLaren missed opportunities: “Those two have shown there was definitely some opportunities out there.

“It is always so difficult to know. With hindsight it’s easy to be a master and have a perfect strategy after the race. Maybe a few things we could have done a bit differently. But we will have a look and see what we could have done differently.”

Feature Image Credit: @McLarenF1 on Twitter

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