Norris very happy with US GP podium despite tyre struggles

© XPB 

Lando Norris felt that his third-place finish in Sunday’s US Grand Prix reflected a job well done on his side in Austin, the McLaren driver leading the first half of the race before tyre degradation set in.

Norris enjoyed a strong launch off the front row of the grid and beat Ferrari poleman Charles Leclerc into the first corner to take an authoritative lead over the field.

The Briton swapped his medium rubber for a set of hard tyres on lap 17 of 56, suggesting that a one-stop race was perhaps in the works for the McLaren charger.

Norris recouped the lead on lap 24 after the initial pit stop rotations had concluded. But Verstappen, running on the faster medium compound, reeled in and overhauled the McLaren on lap 28.

However, brake issues on the Red Bull meant that the Dutchman was unable to extend his gap over Norris. But the latter was forced back into the pits on lap 34 to take on another set of softs, after which he was also passed by Lewis Hamilton who had the advantage of the medium rubber for his final stint.

Norris reckoned that Sunday’s high track temperatures had impacted the durability of his tyres, rendering impossible a potential one-stopper.

“Yes, just leading the race. I could control it a lot, but just not enough today,” he said as he commented his afternoon in parc fermé.

“But I'm happy. It was a good race for my side.

“We knew our struggles, we knew what was going to be difficult today. And it was just the degradation but the pace over the first 10 laps of every stint, the pace in the beginning was strong.

“I just couldn't hold on long enough. So we're getting there. Progress, progress every weekend. Just some more steps needed.”

Norris said that after Hamilton slotted into the runner-up spot, he opted to focus on protecting his spot on the podium from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who appeared to have a shot at challenging his former McLaren teammate.

“I had to try, right? But I just couldn't do it,” he added. “I didn't have enough tyres left at the end, you saw how quickly he pulled away at the end. So you know, I always had to look after my own race.

“I did the best I could. I had to push and look after the tyres, and it was just too difficult today. So maybe if it was a cooler track it would have suited us a little bit more but it wasn't. But I'm still happy.

“The team have done an excellent job to finish on the podium here. It was better than we were expecting coming into the weekend. So very happy.”

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