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F1 | Abu Dhabi GP | Norris ‘’very happy’’ and ‘’smiling’’ as he qualifies a superb P4

A brilliant qualifying for Lando Norris and McLaren has put them in a strong position to get 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship tomorrow.

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F1 | Abu Dhabi GP | Norris ‘’very happy’’ and ‘’smiling’’ as he qualifies a superb P4
Fuente imagen: Twitter.com/McLarenF1

Lando Norris put in possibly the lap of qualifying as he ended up in 4th place, beating the Red Bull of Alex Albon by 0.074s. He was only 0.251s off pole-sitter Max Verstappen, too. He was surprised at how close the gap to P1 was.  

“I think my Q3 lap was just very strong and was just a very nice, tidy lap,” Norris said. “It wasn’t like it was perfect altogether but it was probably my best of the year in terms of getting the tyres in a good window and maximising what we have as a package this weekend. 

“It took me and probably all of us by surprise how close we were to pole at the end of the day. I think that was the surprising thing. But, of course, I was very happy with fourth and the lap I did. So it was a nice way to end qualifying this season.” 

Norris started at the back of the field in Bahrain last weekend after McLaren to put a new power unit in his car following a disappointing qualifying at the second event held at the Sakir circuit. He doesn’t believe it explains the full gap to Sainz, however.  

“Obviously I got the new power unit in and it’s helping me out a lot more than what was bringing me down over the last three or four weeks,” he said. “So maybe I have a half a tenth advantage or something over the whole lap. But I’m not two-and-a-half or three tenths down like the last few weekends. 

So a bit more competitive, which is nice, and happier to look at the data and not see myself down on the straights which is a good thing. I didn’t think that was the help at the end though.” 

Norris’ exceptional qualifying performance meant he beat Carlos Sainz 9-8 in the qualifying head-to-head this year. The young Brit was delighted at the gap and admitted he was smiling as he crossed the line.

"I would say this time I did it more in a decent way," Norris told Sky. "It wasn't by one-thousandth or two hundredths, or because he made a mistake, it was just because I did a very good lap and I think honestly it was the first time this weekend that I crossed the line and I smiled, I was actually smiling. 

"It's nice because I changed a few things, with my engineers, with my mentality and my approach coming into qualifying because it's been an area I've been struggling with lately. 

"I feel like it's paid off today and it's been my best weekend of the whole year so far. Many good things to take into next year already, but for a Saturday, for the final weekend of the year, I'm good." 

McLaren trail Racing Point by 10 points in the hotly contested battle for 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship, but with Norris P4 and Sainz in P6, combined with Sergio Perez starting at the back, McLaren are in a great position to snatch it tomorrow.  

"It's the perfect Saturday," said Norris. "I don't think we can rule anything out because Perez came from last last weekend and he's often come from the back and had a podium or something. 

"They're going to be coming through, they're going to be fast tomorrow. Sergio's been quite a bit quicker than Lance all weekend so if anyone's coming through it's going to be Sergio. Their cars very quick, but at the same time today we were in a good rhythm and was performing well. We'll see what we can do tomorrow." 

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