Norris admits battling himself and McLaren car in qualifying


Lando Norris admits that he’s been facing a conundrum this season in qualifying with McLaren’s MCL38 that has prevented him from driving at “100%”.

Norris qualified seventh and sixth in Bahrain and in Jeddah before claiming third in Melbourne and last weekend in Japan.

While his performance has progressed on Saturdays based on the last two race weekends, the Briton says he still has a lack of understanding on how to best utilize his car for single-lap performance.

Norris feels that McLaren’s latest contender requires a more reserved driving style and controlled approach compared to his natural attacking instincts.

“Maybe qualifying is the one where I find it a little bit tough to get everything out of the car,” he explained last weekend at Suzuka.

“But from my side, as I said last weekend, trying to get everything out of the car in quali, I struggle with a bit, on myself, and also just with how we are as a team.

Read also: Stella stands by McLaren strategy calls for Norris in Japanese GP

“Yes, it’s a McLaren and there are certain things that it takes time to pick up on.

"But everything else is still changing around it – slowly tweaking the aerodynamics over the years, and stuff, to adapt quite a bit to those characteristics.”


Norris suggests that the difference between his preferred style and the car's needs creates a mental hurdle, as he wants to find that extra edge but feels restricted.

“In qualifying, I've always been wanting to push quite a bit more in certain areas and kind of want to go out and just be attacking,” he said.

“I have to do the complete opposite. It's a hard one to get my head around, because I want to go out and find another level in qualifying and you can't do that with these tyres and with our car.

“You almost have to drive it the opposite way.

“I can’t even drive at 100%,” he added. “100% works one lap in 10. So, when you want to go into Q3 and put your best lap on, it might be that one lap you have to drive at 98% or something.

“It’s just a complicated thing – difficult to be on the limit.”

Norris concedes that his adaptation to F1’s ground-effect cars hasn’t been quick enough, with habits from past easier-to-handle cars still lingering.

“From being used to the cars a few years ago, that's kind of punishing me now, I'm not adapting quick enough,” he said.

“The older regulations were easier to drive and to find the limit. This new car and new tyres are three years old – [but] still the same issues.

“But that's something that's up to me. That's my job to adapt and to do a better job, just with how our car is and how we have to drive it.

“It's always been said, and it continues, to be quite a tricky car to drive - to execute a perfect qualifying lap every single time is not an easy thing to do.”

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