McLaren's hopes of winning their second race in a row were destroyed on lap 51 of today's Russian GP, when Lando Norris, out in the rain still on old hards, slid towards the barriers and was forced to pit as the track became too wet, ending in P7. Monza winner Daniel Ricciardo had issues too, as he suffered from a slow pit while fighting for the podium, but equalled his second-best result with the English team securing P4.
In McLaren's post-race press conference, Team Principal Andreas Seidl recalled what happened in those crucial, last, "frustrating" laps:
"As always, in these tricky situations there's communications between the driver and the pit wall, using all the information that we have available in terms of weather forecast and of what the other cars are doing, trying to brief Lando while at the same time getting feedback from Lando on how the track conditions are."
Seidl explained that it was a joint call to keep Norris on track, as the weather was supposed to improve and the driver had a good feeling with the car: "Lando, with the information he had from us and with what he was feeling from track, he felt good, staying out there on the slicks. That's something we have to look into to see what we could have done better."
"It was the wrong decision we have made as a team, but we win together and we lose together. The important thing is to analyse it, to learn from it and then move on, but, at the same time, I think we have seen a lot of positives this weekend, and that we have done a sensational job all weekend, we had a sensational race. Unfortunately, we didn't end up getting the results we would have deserved at the end of such a weekend."
"Apart from those last three laps it was actually a pretty good weekend for us," he highlighted.
He added that the team didn't want to "overrule" the driver's judgement on the track conditions, but that there's a lot of work to be done in order to fully understand what could be done in the future to avoid the return of such a situation:
"That's exactly what we have to analyse now in detail, which information was made available and what did we do with it, which is always the case to do after such a situation in the race. Again, in the end I think as a team, together with Lando we didn't get it right in hindsight, compared to some other teams that got it right, and that's why we are disappointed. There was more possible today, and that's what we need to analyse and learn from."
Asked if matching Hamilton's choice of switching to inters in order to allow Norris to race equally would have been a safer call, the German denied it as the best option at that time:
"You can't look at it like that because in the end he was second. Following his radio, also Lewis wanted to stay out, and for him obviously it meant the chance to do the opposite of what we were doing, that's simply the race situation you're in. So, I wouldn't say that this was an issue."
The McLaren Team Principal reaffirmed that the blame for the racing situation was "shared", and that Norris wasn't the only one to believe that staying out was a good choice:
"If we would have been crystal clear from the team's side, and convinced him that it was 100% the right decision to stop, he would have stopped. So, in the end it was a close call, again, of course it's easier to say afterwards that it was a wrong one because that's how it played out, but I think it was quite close to decide what is the right thing."
"Now we need to analyse if there was any information available which should have led us to make a clear call, but in the end, with the information we had available at the time, the weather forecast and all the feedback from Lando, we took this decision together."
Seidl concluded that the best option now for the team is to "reset and move on", thinking about the next race in Turkey:
"We're disappointed with the outcome of the race, and those three laps, but frustration and disappointment doesn't move you forward.''