Lando Norris sees the world championship battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton from the best spot on the field right in front of him. The young man is aware of his responsibility, but he just doesn’t want to back out in the race.
In the end, the knot blew again. With Lando Norris taking third place on the grid, McLaren achieved a major breakthrough after a series of disappointing weekends. In general, the man with the starting number 4 is accustomed to the starting positions in the first rows. He was already in the first two classes six times, and among those in Sochi, he was already in first place.
Did Norris tip the scales?
But this time, third place was very special. Because he looks directly at World Cup rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the start and could become the great unknown for both. Norris is well aware of his responsibility. “I’m a little nervous,” says the 22-year-old. “I don’t want to interfere.”
However, being very careful doesn’t help either. His boss, Andreas Seidl, advises against doing so. “He has to do what he always does. If you are intentionally very careful, then as a driver your instincts take over. Then the feeling is lost, and that can make the situation really dangerous.”
Norris has a strategy already. “Of course you have to respect that they are fighting for the championship. But I also know what I am fighting for. If I have a chance to overtake, I will do it,” he says confidently. “You have something to lose and I have something to gain.”
Seidl praises Norris
It has been a surprise to everyone to ever get this position. Even Team Leader Seidl didn’t expect that. However, when you return to the past, everything suits him. “Lando loves the track a lot. Today he did that sure thing, we even start before Perez at Red Bull.” To keep in mind: In 2020, Norris finished fourth in qualifying – just 0.251 seconds off pole position.
The sixth World Cup spoke of himself about a clean round. Only in the last corner did he have to be careful not to cross the white line. The increase from his first attempt to his second attempt was significant. Go from seventh to third. On the first lap of Q3, he held himself back in turn 6.
Like Verstappen, Norris starts the race with soft tyres. He speculated that “this should give us an advantage over Lewis initially”. “Actually we wanted to compete in the middle as well. Just as Max would have liked. But the soft tire is reasonable.” On the yellow Pirelli, McLaren was not fast enough to qualify for the final round. Therefore, the exchange took place on the softest mixture.
Ricardo looking for a fist
As for his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, it was a fun day. He was half a second behind Norris and finished 10th. “Daniel had problems getting the extra stability of the new tires and turning it into lap time,” Seidl explained. “He was driving around the same time as used tires.”
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