Norris – I let McLaren down
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 19th March, 2023 - 7:30pm
Lando Norris has conceded to letting down McLaren after making what he has described as “a silly mistake” in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
In the opening session at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Norris kissed a wall with the left-front wheel, breaking a steering arm on his MCL60.
Despite a frantic effort from his mechanics to get him back out on track, the British driver was unable to return and will start from a lowly 19th on the grid.
In contrast, team-mate Oscar Piastri underlined what was possible as he made it into Q3, with the Australian lining up eighth courtesy of a 10-place penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
“It was just a misjudgment, to be honest,” explained Norris. “Nothing much more, a mistake on my part – a mistake that I shouldn’t make, to be honest.
“It’s probably one of the easiest corners on the track, in terms of judgment, and I just got it wrong. Simple as that. No excuses.
“Frustrating, of course, just because the car was performing well. The team has done a good job all weekend, or we’ve done a good job to probably extract a bit more from it than we did in Bahrain.
“It’s definitely suited the track a bit more than in Bahrain, and was clearly good enough for Q3, so a bit frustrated. I was feeling good, but just a silly mistake.”
Repair almost completed
Asked if he felt his session was done when he made the error, the 23-year-old replied: “Yeah, I could feel the steering went straight away.
“The guys did a very good job to almost get it out. I think it (a repair) was pretty much done by the end of the session.
“So if I was into Q2, I’d have been fine, or if there was a small red flag … the guys were pushing as hard as they could to get me back out.
“I already said thanks to them for the effort. I just let them down.”
Norris hoping for 2021 chaos
Norris now recognises he has his work cut out to potentially score a point, believing he will require an incident to offer him a helping hand.
“A repeat of 2021 would be nice,” said Norris, referring to the fact there was one safety car period, two red flags, and four virtual safety car periods.
“Of course, you always need a little bit of luck every now and then. At the same time, I’m confident we have a reasonable car (for the race).
“It might not be easy to overtake with where we’re strong and where we’re weak compared to some other cars but I’m optimistic I can go forward.
“The car reached Q3 so we can definitely go forward, we have the pace to do it. It is just going about it and putting that into a plan.
“Whether there are going to be VSCs or safety cars, I hope so because it probably makes our life a little bit easier, and it’s easier to jump two or three spots rather than one at a time.
“We will put it in a good plan and see what we can achieve.”
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