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Formula 1

Why out of place Norris thinks he could’ve beaten Leclerc

by Jack Cozens
3 min read

Lando Norris thinks he could have beaten championship leader Charles Leclerc to second on the grid for Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna sprint race had his run plan in the final part of qualifying at Imola been different.

The McLaren driver – who caused a Q3-ending red flag, the fifth in total of qualifying – was third and 1.132 seconds off polesitter Max Verstappen, but within four tenths of Leclerc’s second-best time.

He said in the top-three interview sessions after qualifying there was “a lot” of laptime still available to him and that his off at Acque Minerali was “a shame, because there was a chance at least to maybe have a go at Charles”.

Expanding on that when speaking to Sky Sports F1, Norris said: “I would have liked to have got that last lap in because we didn’t do a lap where we were [on] full power, full battery.

“The lap I did in the beginning of Q3 was a two-consecutive [run plan] and when you do a two-consecutive you have kind of split battery, 50%-50%. So if I’d managed to get a lap at the end which was 100% battery there was a good three or four tenths left in it.

“I’m sure Charles would have maybe improved as well, but if he made a mistake and didn’t I could have got him, so there was maybe that little chance to do even better and to score a second place today.

“But it didn’t happen because of the mistake I made at the end, so I have to be happy enough with third and honestly it’s a great result for us, so I’ll take it.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Qualifying Day Imola, Italy

Norris conceded McLaren was “still a long way off the Ferraris and the Red Bulls” and that “in qualifying, when people have less chances, less time to get up to speed, that’s when we look better”.

“Without trying to big myself up a bit, when it’s a bit more down to the driver and taking the risks and pushing the tyres, and finding your limits in wet-dry, dry-wet conditions, that’s where we’ve done a good job today,” he said.

“I think I just have to be happy with myself and the job I’ve done, I executed everything that I needed to and therefore I’m happy with that.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Qualifying Day Imola, Italy

Norris grazed the barrier with his front wing on the outside of Acque Minerali, where he had also had an off in first practice, when he crashed in Q3, but said he did not expect it to have caused any significant damage.

“[The car is] fine, I think,” he said.

“They’ll obviously check it, but I looked because we’re still early in the season so a few parts are short. But they’ll check it and we’ll be fine for tomorrow.”

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