Norris hails soft tyre gamble: 'Even better than expected'

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M. 11.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Monza
ยฉ XPB 

Lando Norris was happy to see McLaren's gamble to run on soft tyres pay off in Saturday's sprint qualifying race.

However he suggested that Formula 1 needs to find a solution for the relative lack of overtaking action in the short format races.

This weekend's race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza is only the second outing for the new Grand Prix race weekend format, in which a short 30 minute race sets the starting order for Sunday's full-distance event.

But just as proved to be the case at the maiden outing of the format at Silverstone, there was little on-track action during the 18 laps of Monza. Instead the highlights were a poor launch for Lewis Hamilton, and Pierre Gasly spinning out on the first lap.

McLaren went into the race gambling on soft tyres to shake things up while those around them on the grid opted for the conservative choice of running the medium compound. But even that proved of limited effectiveness today.

"I think it was a good decision to start on the soft tyre," Norris said afterwards after finishing the sprint in fourth place just behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

"It worked well for both Daniel and myself. We both gain a position tomorrow, and Daniel got a point today too so thatโ€™s great for the team.

"It sets us up even better than we were expecting for the race," he continued. "So it's been a positive day. I think the race pace is good as well, and we can look forward to hopefully some more points tomorrow."

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren. 11.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Monza,

That said, Norris agreed with other drivers including Red Bull's Sergio Perez that the sprint race had failed to deliver the expected levels of excitement.

โ€œItโ€™s tricky,โ€ Norris said when he was asked whether he liked the new format.
โ€œYouโ€™re just pushing the whole way [but] even on the softest tyre thereโ€™s not really much [degradation]. Not a lot of stuff happens.

โ€œOf course from a spectator point of view this is way better,โ€ he acknowledged. โ€œItโ€™s for the fans, itโ€™s for you guys, itโ€™s for everyone watching. I think there are a lot of positive things about it.

"[But] when we see a lot of racing tomorrow, itโ€™s going to be when tyres go off," he added. "And different strategies, rather than just racing."

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M. 11.09.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Monza

Norris suggested that the sport could consider a brand new tyre just for sprint races. "Whether we just have like an extreme hypersoft for the sprint race and people have to manage a bit more, maybe then youโ€™ll see something.

"You need that risk versus reward," he contended. "We can take the risks and other people have to be a bit more cautious like Mercedes and Red Bull, so we can take advantage of that.โ€

But for today, securing a front row spot on tomorrow's grid for Ricciardo while Norris lines up in third place on the grid represents a good opportunity for McLaren.

"I think it sets us up for well tomorrow," Norris agreed.

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