Lando Norris has backed McLaren‘s decision to use hard tyres but admitted it was still a terrible decision as he finished seventh at the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
McLaren elected to run a big rear wing compared to their rivals throughout the weekend, which provided an advantage in the wet conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.
But, Sunday’s race was largely carried out in dry conditions as Norris, who was the only driver to use the hard tyres, initially fell down the order due to a lack of straight line speed.
“We had to try something so we went onto the hard [tyre] but it was worse,” Norris said to the media. “No-one has used the hard all weekend. We thought it normally kind of suits us so I think it was the right decision to try, but it was still terrible.
“I just didn’t have enough laps to get the tyres into the window and to be able to push and I got overtaken on my first lap out of the box. Then I got put behind one car so I couldn’t push in the middle sector and then I got overtaken two or three more times.
“Then we put the softs on and everything came back to us, I don’t know how we ended up seventh. Honestly, I felt like I was last for the most part and I ended up in seventh so I am a bit surprised.”
McLaren distracted at the Belgian GP
McLaren introduced their B-spec car at the Austrian and British GP and have spent the last three Formula 1 races reaping the rewards of a successful upgrade, but also learning how to maximise their package.
Norris admitted the team have been too distracted by the new package to correctly set up the car for Spa as some of their old problems appeared to re-surface.
“We just haven’t been able to focus on what we wanted because we brought a whole new car,” Norris added to the media. “It’s the correct thing to do because there’s only three or four races that are as low-downforce as this.
“All of our focus was on just trying to deliver the new car that we’ve had from a few weeks ago and that’s delivered us two podiums. So I’d rather take that than just be below par for the whole time.
“Early on we went back to normal, we were pretty shocking with the tyres again on all tyres – soft, medium and hard.
“We’re not where we need to be, we’re not up racing with Mercedes and all of those cars, they’re clearly another step ahead of us.”