McLaren to analyse Norris tyre call

Lando Norris

McLaren will analyse why the pit wall did not overrule Lando Norris’ decision to remain on track as conditions in the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix deteriorated.

It was ultimately a decision that cost McLaren victory as Norris skated off the road when rain over the circuit intensified in the final laps.

Carlos Sainz seized the lead off the start and headed affairs until his stop on Lap 14.

Thereafter, Norris controlled affairs, only giving up the lead to Sergio Perez when he stopped on Lap 28, resuming top spot on Lap 37.

He then held the lead until Lap 51, when he skated off the road at Turn 5 on slick tyres, allowing Lewis Hamilton to move through and take the initiative.

“In the end, we didn’t ever overrule him as a as a team,” noted team boss Andreas Seidl.

“That’s something we need to look into to see what we could have done better because of course in hindsight it was the wrong decision.”

Seidl explained that Norris had reported that he was comfortable on track on slick tyres, though the pit wall had a broader picture of the race.

“In these tricky situations it’s the communication between the driver and the pit wall, using all the information we have available in terms of weather forecasts, looking what other cars are doing, trying to brief Lando and at the same time get the feedback from Lando [on] how the track conditions are,” the German said.

“Lando, with the information he had from us, how he was feeling on track, he felt good staying out there on the slicks.”

Norris was ultimately forced to stop on Lap 51, having dropped to fourth place as he did so and resuming in eighth.

He was able to pass Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap to move up to seventh, though was summoned post-race to the stewards for his entry to the pit lane.

The 21-year-old skated wide of the pit entry as he braked for the tight right-hander as he looked to move onto intermediate tyres, rejoining the track before crossing the pit entry line to re-enter the pits.

He was handed a reprimand for the incident.

“The Stewards took into account that on the previous lap the driver of Car 4
had passed through Turn 17 (adjacent to the Pit Entry) at a relatively high speed,
without loss of control,” the stewards’ decision noted.

“During the ensuing lap, the conditions deteriorated rapidly and
were varied in different parts of the circuit.

“The driver slowed considerably on entering the Pit Entry, with his speed approximately half of his normal pit entry speed, but still lost control and slid across the painted area between the Pit Entry and the track.

“Although obviously the driver chose to remain out on the track on hard compound slick tyres when others chose to change to Intermediates, and therefore sought to gain an advantage in retaining his race position, we do not consider that the crossing of the painted area was intentional or predictable in the circumstances.”

Disappointed, Seidl was unwilling to point the finger at Norris.

“We win together, we lose together, the important thing is to analyse it, to learn from it, and then move on,” he said.

“At the same time, I think we have seen a lot of positives this weekend.

“Daniel [Ricciardo] has done a sensational job all weekend.

“He did a sensational race, unfortunately did not end up in the result we would have deserved at the end of such a weekend.

“But for the last few laps, it was actually a pretty good weekend for us.”

Ricciardo’s hopes were dashed when a problem in his pit stop on Lap 22 cost him valuable time.

The cause of the delay is still to be investigated, with Seidl unsure whether it was human error, systems or procedure malfunction.

It saw the Australian fall from sixth as he pitted to 14th, though recovered to fifth once again before the rain fell.

He stopped for a second time on Lap 48 for intermediates, three laps prior to Norris, and was classified fourth at the finish.

While Norris fell to seventh, his result combined with Ricciardo’s saw McLaren outscore Ferrari, meaning the squad has extended its constructors’ championship advantage in their battle for third to 17.5 points.

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