F1 is up and running in Austria again this weekend and Lando Norris has not let the chance to show how much he enjoys this track pass up. Last year he stepped up on the podium for the first time in his F1 career, tomorrow the Red Bull Ring will see his debut front row start. The Brit closed this afternoon’s qualifying session in a rather impressive 2nd place. His quickest lap was 1:03.768, only 0.048s off pole sitter Max Verstappen.
“Red Bull is still much quicker than us, you know, this is just a fact they are better and Max pretty much did his time at the end and completely clean with jam, if we did we wouldn't be where we were,” he commented in a session with written media including MotorLat.
“A decent amount of [my] lap time comes from having a slipstream and putting yourself in the right position. And that helps us be as quick as we are.”
But does he think he could have done even better and secured the pole position?
“There's no such thing as a perfect lap. I don't think if I went again, I'd be able to. Not gonna lie. So I'm very happy with my lap. I don't think I could have done a lot better just on an average performance. I think we don't have a good enough car to go for a pole, even if we're half a tenth off.”
An improvement from last weekend’s P3 start, but as the Styrian GP confirmed McLaren’s problems lay in the lack of race pace. A struggle Team Principal Andreas Seidl is well aware of.
“Despite the great result today, we know exactly where we are, as a team with the car, with our drivers. We have seen last weekend that in terms of race pace, both Red Bulls and both Mercedeses simply are clearly a big step away still from us.”
“We have to see tomorrow, how the race goes,” he continued. “If there's any chance to fight even Max, for example, in the race start on the first lap, he will do it. But then we simply need to see how it goes.”
“The minimum you want to achieve tomorrow is P5 again. But at the same time, you may want to take opportunities if opportunities come up to finish higher up.”
In the meantime Seidl is quite satisfied with Lando Norris’ astonishing qualifying performance.
“I think it was pretty much a perfect lap. He was, again, impressive to see really for everything he did in qualifying, how he was pulling it off, on the medium tyres in Q2 also how he's dealing with that switch from the soft tyres in the first session to the medium tyres and second session back to the soft tyre.”
A demonstration, he believes, of McLaren young driver’s growth.
“That just shows that he made a great step forward again this year as a driver is able to adapt to these challenges. He has the confidence to go into these laps and then also knowing what he has to do and what he has to adjust together with his engineering team.”