Are McLaren becoming ‘new Ferrari’ after another strategy blunder?

A strategic error at Silverstone cost McLaren a grand prix victory for the second time in a month

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Lando Norris‘ media appearances after the British GP were a genuinely tough watch, with reporters seemingly counselling the 24-year-old through his interviews after he missed out on yet another win due to a strategic error from McLaren.

Since finally getting the monkey off his back in Miami, Norris appears to have allowed it to clamber right back on in the following races having been in contention in the Canadian, Spanish and Austrian GPs prior to Silverstone.

He was outdueled in Catalonia and taken out at the Red Bull Ring, but McLaren and Norris genuinely only have themselves to blame for the other two occasions – and it showed when he was asked if this was another one that got away.

“I’ve heard that a lot lately, so I hate saying it again, things were going well. Norris told members of the press including Total-Motorsport.com at Silverstone. “We threw it away in the final stop, so one lap, but also I don’t think it was the lap.

“I think even if I box on the perfect lap our decision to go onto the softs was the wrong one. I think we still would’ve won no matter what [on the mediums] so two calls from our side cost us everything today so especially here, pretty disappointing.”

How did McLaren get their British GP strategy so wrong?

Lando Norris during 2024 British GP | McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris during the 2024 British GP | McLaren F1 Team

To make matters worse, Norris was arguably only the second-worst affected driver from McLaren‘s Silverstone strategic blunders, as teammate Oscar Piastri went from battling to the lead to almost a pitstop behind in the space of just a lap.

McLaren at least avoided the first big trap of the race by staying out on slicks when Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc opted for intermediate tyres in the early shower, and enjoyed a galactic advantage in those conditions as the pair made six overtakes in just three of laps to fashion a 1-2 after previously running fourth and fifth.

But after combining to each pass 10 championships and 166 grand prix victories, McLaren came unstuck when the rain returned around the halfway point of the race as Norris and Piastri took one and two laps too long to pit for intermediate tyres.

The Australian may have been partially to blame for that, putting all his chips on overtaking Norris on the lead McLaren‘s in-lap instead of dropping back to allow them to double-stack and potentially hold up the Mercedes pair in the process.

Verstappen had already put McLaren on the back foot by correctly anticipating track conditions and diving into the pitlane a lap earlier, a call Norris could’ve also made, but they lost the opportunity to keep both drivers in the final battle by leaving Piastri to his own devices.

But Norris‘ biggest blunder was approaching the final quarter of the British GP, as McLaren‘s strategists boasted on team radio that they had the tyre advantage over Hamilton or Verstappen – neither of whom could switch to mediums on the final stint.

Norris could, but elected to follow Hamilton onto the softs in a disastrous move that ultimately handed his compatriot the win. Esteban Ocon and Zhou Guanyu had shown at the start of the grand prix that the fastest tyres were also by far the most delicate, and the gamble didn’t work for either driver.

That meant that while Oscar Piastri was trading fastest laps with Verstappen in the closing stages on medium tyres, Norris was being hunted down and eventually provided the double-DRS for the Dutchman to almost take that extra point before conceding three more in the championship.

The most pointless review?

Race winner Max Verstappen, second placed Lando Norris of McLaren and third placed George Russell of Mercedes celebrate on the podium after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Race winner Max Verstappen, second-placed Lando Norris of McLaren and third-placed George Russell of Mercedes celebrate on the podium after the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

We have been here before – one month before, to be accurate. McLaren cost Norris victory in Canada by failing to react to a safety car as quickly as Red Bull did, allowing Verstappen to take track position that he never relinquished.

After Logan Sargeant crashed out, his stricken Williams remained in a dangerous position and it was obvious that a safety car would be called, but McLaren weren’t prepared enough to make the most of the admittedly tight window they had to call Norris into the pitlane.

Norris told reporters that McLaren had learned from the Montreal mistake, but now they’ll have a whole new race to review, and wonder ‘what if?’

He’s shown that he’s capable of masterfully managing his tyres like the best of them – a trait that’s set Norris apart from Piastri throughout their careers as teammates – but McLaren must flush the Ferrari out of their strategy system if they’re to avoid more heartbroken post-race press conferences throughout the rest of 2024.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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