Lando Norris explains necessary change to qualifying approach

The McLaren driver believes his 'full-send' approach to qualifying is hindering his performance

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Lando Norris feels that a change needs to be made to his approach to Formula 1 qualifying after voicing his dissatisfaction with his record so far in 2024. 

Although the McLaren driver enjoyed his first podium of the year at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, Norris believes that more can be extracted from the car in qualifying, but that this is a target he’s failing to reach. 

“I actually always want to attack in qualifying,” Norris told the media at the Japanese GP. “But with this car you sometimes have to do exactly the opposite.

“That’s difficult to process in your head. Normally you push the limit every qualifying lap. But with these tires and our car, that’s just not possible.”

In the Brit’s view, McLaren’s 2024 challenger necessitates a much less aggressive approach in qualifying. 

“If you give 100 percent, it only works in one out of ten cases,” said Norris. “It’s often better to only go 98 percent to the limit.

“How much you can push often also depends on slightly different wind speeds, or whether the tyres are warmer or colder. Then you have to brake a metre earlier.”

Norris improving but not without difficulty

Norris has consistently qualified within the top ten across the first three races of the season, with his highest grid position coming most recently at the Australian GP, where he started fourth. So far throughout the 2024 season, Norris’ qualifying results have improved race-on-race. 

Even so, Norris remains unhappy with his performance thus far. He shared that he has already begun to target this area, utilising time in the simulator to trial a different approach.

“Unfortunately, the correlation with the conditions on the track doesn’t always match up properly,” Norris said.

“But at least you can practise driving a little more relaxed and apply new driving techniques. What you can’t do, however, is simulate the emotions that prevail on a qualifying lap.

“In qualifying, it’s more natural for a driver to attack fully. To suddenly slow down now goes against my intuition and what I’ve learned over the years.”

Jasmine Hughes
Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsport in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. She has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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