Norris could have “easily" fought for F1 pole before Spa crash

McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris believes that he could have “easily fought for pole” at the Belgian Grand Prix before his huge accident in the final session of qualifying.

Norris was fastest in both Q1 and Q2 before he hit the barrier at the top of Raidillon at the start of a soaking wet Q3 session, which Aston Martin's Sebastien Vettel had moments earlier said should have been stopped due to standing water.

The incident brought out a red flag and led to a long delay while Norris was taken to hospital for checks, including an x-ray on his elbow. He has been passed fit to race and returned to the track on Saturday evening.

Having not set a time in Q3, he was classified 10th but will start one spot higher as eighth-placed qualifier Valtteri Bottas carries over a five-place grid penalty for causing the first Turn 1 accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix last time out. However, his car required a new gearbox, which will be a five-place grid drop to 14th – but will not need a new chassis.

Norris admitted that like other drivers he thought conditions were too bad for the cars to run at the start of Q3, but felt confident in his car to contend with ultimate poleman Max Verstappen and shock runner-up George Russell.

“Everything was going extremely well,” he said. “Since the first lap in Q1 things were going perfectly, and the car was feeling hooked up, I felt confident with the car.

“I guess it was tricky going out in Q3 because even on the out lap, I was saying how wet it was and saying it should be should be stopped or something, because I was aquaplaning quite a bit.

“So it was just a difficult situation to be in: how much do you want to push, how much do you not? I think it's combination of pushing a bit too much for the weather at that point, aquaplaning a little bit in the middle of Eau Rouge, which obviously doesn't end too well, and ends up being the way it was in the end.

“Of course, I feel bad because things were going very well, the car was on fire, and Q1 and Q2 were extremely good. I think I could have quite easily fought for pole position.

“I've now given the team a lot of work to do and probably a very late night, but not a lot I can do now.”

Read Also:

Some drivers – including Lewis Hamilton – have suggested that a bump at the bottom of Eau Rouge had made life harder at Spa this year. Norris agreed that the “different tarmac strip at the bottom” might have contributed to him losing control.

“It definitely makes a lot trickier, especially in those conditions, when it's that wet,” Norris said. “I think it was one of the first laps where it basically wasn't flat out. And it wasn't like I tried to do it flat out on my first attempt, I still lifted and whatever.

“But I think you get these tram lines from where people go. And as soon as you go at the speed I was going, a little bit offline, you just kind of hit all the standing water, and the wet tyres, with how much water was coming down, these bumps as well in the bottom of Raidillon going through Eau Rouge, it was too much for what I had to do.

“I think at the end of the day I guess my mistake, and my bad. But I didn't feel like I was taking too many risks at the same time. I think it was just the conditions were was so tough.

“And from what I heard a lot of other drivers were complaining that it should get stopped at the same time. So yeah, of course, I was frustrated and annoyed, but we'll try and make up for it tomorrow.”

Explaining his physical condition, Norris said he was “a bit bruised” after the impact, but stressed he was “ready to race tomorrow”.

“I want to get back on track already, because it didn't end the way I wanted it to,” he said.

McLaren has yet to confirm what elements of Norris’s package will have to be changed, and how that will impact his current grid position. Norris also revealed that he was cheering on Russell while travelling to the hospital in the ambulance.

“I'm very happy for George as well, I was watching in the ambulance on the way, I wanted to watch quali still,” he explained. “I was cheering on George to go for that pole.”

shares
comments
George Russell had "nothing to lose" in Spa F1 qualifying

Previous article

George Russell had "nothing to lose" in Spa F1 qualifying

Next article

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – How to watch, start time & more
Load comments
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Prime

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

Why Verstappen should be confident of Russian GP recovery Prime

Why Verstappen should be confident of Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi...

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021
Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1 Prime

Why dumping the MGU-H is the right move for F1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Prime

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. Damien Smith brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1.

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Prime

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus Prime

How Mika Hakkinen thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Prime

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Prime

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says Stuart Codling.

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021