McLaren chief pinpoints where 2024 Spanish GP was lost

Lando Norris started on pole but lost multiple places before Turn 1, just one of the reasons why McLaren lost the 2024 Spanish GP


McLaren‘s team boss they lost the 2024 Spanish GP by Turn 1 as a poor start saw Lando Norris drop from pole to third, costing him valuable time in his pursuit of Max Verstappen at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

McLaren came into the race after taking pole by 0.020 and looked competitive with Red Bull in long-run predictions, and that’s exactly how the race played out as their driver pushed the world champion all the way to the line, where he was beaten by 2.2 seconds.

But as a collective partnership, they lacked the unrelenting consistency and decisiveness of the current championship leaders. McLaren and Norris made crucial blunders costing them the time needed for Norris to beat Verstappen.

One of which was highlighted as the first corner by team principal, Andrea Stella, as he could only watch as McLaren lost the 2024 Spanish GP.

“The win went away from us in the first corner,” Stella told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “In Barcelona, it’s not a surprise you lose from pole position because it’s a long way to Turn 1. I actually appreciate that Lando kept out of problems.

Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren
Lando Norris during the 2024 Spanish GP weekend | McLaren

“We wanted to finish the race. We knew the pace was strong. The strategy was strong. I want to praise the guys that prepared the strategy very carefully. We knew here you don’t have to pit too early otherwise you run out of tyres. In the end, we missed out to fight for the victory.”

Norris didn’t get off the line as well as Verstappen and instantly allowed the Red Bull to get its front-left tyre alongside the McLaren’s rear-right, earning the space needed to dive down the inside at Turn 1 to claim second place on the opening lap, despite being squeezed onto the grass too.

Why only second? Because as Norris was focused on fending off Verstappen to his right, a good start by MercedesGeorge Russell allowed him to claim the racing line and use superior speed to go dancing around the outside and into the lead as Norris lost out and dropped to third.

George Russell of Mercedes leads Max Verstappen into Turn 1 at the start of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
George Russell of Mercedes leads Max Verstappen into Turn 1 at the start of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Are Red Bull faster than McLaren?

McLaren have arguably had the quickest car in Formula 1 since the 2024 Miami GP, where Lando Norris claimed his first win of his career at the Miami International Autodrome.

In that time, Verstappen’s failed to take three pole positions and has had to work for all of his wins whilst facing stern tests from Norris in Imola, Canada and now Spain too, leaving the question of whether Red Bull have finally been caught up and maybe even exceeded.

So, what does the McLaren boss think of the conversation?

“I think the two cars are very, very close,” Stella added. “That’s a great achievement for McLaren to talk about being on par with Red Bull, but we want to improve the car.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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