Lando Norris concerned about McLaren’s race pace in Austria

The McLaren driver starts the 2023 Austrian GP in fourth place

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Lando Norris remains concerned about McLaren‘s race pace after a sluggish Austrian GP Sprint race, which saw the Brit finish ninth and outside of the points on Saturday.

After qualifying third for the Sprint, Norris was caught out by Max Verstappen‘s late lunge on Sergio Perez at Turn 3 and accidentally put his McLaren into anti-stall, costing him six positions.

Norris then fought back to eighth, spending most of the Sprint battling for position with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon. But, with conditions drying and George Russell‘s gamble on slicks working, Norris was knocked out of the points in the final laps by the Mercedes.

“I wouldn’t say we were very quick,” said Norris to the media after the sprint. “Everyone was in a bit in a line, but our tyre degradation is still just shocking compared to other people.

“So I’m good in the beginning, and towards the end, I just dropped off. So yeah, some positives, but still, the negative of our race pace is pretty poor.”

McLaren new upgrades paying off over one lap

McLaren had brought a vastly upgraded car to the Red Bull Ring, and Norris had taken full advantage of the upgrades by qualifying fourth for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, behind only Verstappen and both Ferrari cars.

In Saturday’s Sprint Shootout, Norris spent most of the session sandwiched between both Red Bulls in second, before Perez found an extra tenth in the final seconds of SQ3 to relegate the Brit to third.

“The Sprint Shootout earlier this afternoon was much the same as yesterday,” said Andrea Stella after the Sprint. “On Lando‘s side of the garage, we managed to make good progress and start P3.

Lando lost a lot of places on the first lap because of the issue we had in Turn 3 when anti-stall was triggered. Later in the race, we decided to stay on intermediate tyres as we thought his overall race time would have been similar.

“We’ll have a good look at what happened today, learn what we can, and go again tomorrow when there is a chance to score good points.” 

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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