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Formula 1 Azerbaijan GP

Norris: McLaren "in the middle of nowhere" for rest of Baku F1 weekend

McLaren finds itself “in the middle of nowhere” for the rest of Formula 1’s 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend as Lando Norris rued a lost top-four result in Friday qualifying.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Helped by the arrival of a tweaked floor and wing changes as part of ongoing revisions to the MCL60, Norris banked the team’s best qualifying result of the year with seventh in Baku.

His time of 1m41.281s left him behind only the Ferraris, Red Bulls, Mercedes and the sixth-placed Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, who lapped a narrow 0.03s ahead of the Briton.

But Norris reckoned McLaren had not executed its one-lap strategy perfectly to cost a top-four start for the GP, while he lamented scrubbing an extra set of Pirelli tyres ahead of the standalone Saturday sprint day.

Speaking to Sky, Norris said: “Definitely before today, 100%, we would have taken [seventh].  

“It's a great result. The sequence of the upgrades working well, the car was working well on this circuit at the same time. I feel like I did a better job of my driving and things.  

“I should have been a lot better really. I think we should have been P4 today. A bit disappointed, honestly.  

“We as a team didn't do the best job with making the correct decisions of what to do. But apart from that, things are still positive. 

"But we just put ourselves in the middle of nowhere for having a P7 today and not be able to do the runs tomorrow with the new tyres. So, mixed minds.  

“Many positive things though if you look at it from that side. The team's done a great job getting the parts here and allowing them to work straightaway.  

“We had good confidence that we could put them on and things run cleanly and that's what happened.”

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Norris reckoned the improvement at high-speed Baku had come from McLaren trimming off aerodynamic drag and being able to run in a lower downforce set-up.

He then added: “We’re good in the braking zones, we’re good in straight line braking.  

“If you look at Australia [previous round], we weren't bad. It's just we've added to that and maybe the track suits us again that little touch more. So, a combination.  

“We're still 1s off. We maybe should have been 0.8s off, which is still a very good job, but we should have been four positions higher.”

Rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri ran to 10th but ceded a spot to Lance Stroll - who ran earlier than the Australian in Q3 to gain a place when the pair set identical 1m41.611s flying laps.

A more upbeat Piastri reported that he was “a little bit under the weather” and now had to focus on tidying up a couple of corners to improve his time.  

He continued: “It's probably been a better day than maybe what we expected.  

“We'll keep it rolling for tomorrow and see what we can do to make us even quicker.” 

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