Lando Norris was almost a shock pole winner on Saturday in Austria, as the 2021 sensation missed out on top spot by less than half a tenth as he improved his best time by almost quarter of a second on his final run.
The McLaren driver just barely missed out on pipping a dominant Max Verstappen to pole position, but finished ahead of Sergio Perez in other Red Bull, as well as ahead of both Mercedes drivers.
"It feels really good to be here with Max and Sergio, we feel we made a good step forward from last weekend with a couple of things and I was kind of, not frustrated, but I thought there was a little bit more in it last weekend especially to be ahead of both Mercedes cars and that's what we did today," Norris explained after the session to the media, including RacingNews365.
"The whole of qualifying was pretty good, pretty straightforward and good laps and so on. I definitely saved my best for last and did my best lap on Q3 run two so I'm obviously very happy. I have a great position for tomorrow and I think we maximised everything we could today but only four hundredths away from P1! Would have been nice again to do that little bit more but I'm very happy with where I am."
The McLaren driver explained that he felt his final laptime in Q3 was perhaps one of the best qualifying laps he'd ever done in his career.
"I think most corners I definitely did my best laps on and I was actually just behind Max, I was P2 on track so I was a bit nervous I was gonna start losing a lot in the straights, which I did but I made up for it in the corners and especially the high speed!" he said.
"I took quite a few more risks and that's where I found a lot of my laptime and it paid off in the end.
"It's a cool feeling, especially around here, it is a pretty awesome track to really push it on and to try and find those last couple hundredths."
Norris improved upon an already impressive fourth place in qualifying at last weekend's Styrian Grand Prix. Having finished three tenths down on Verstappen on that occasion, the British driver explained a lot of making up that deficit was down to some increased risk taking on his part.
"Here, there's not too much difference with the actual car itself, in terms of specs or anything, it's pretty much the same. I would say in terms of the lap I did was probably a bit better. Taking the risks a little bit more and just doing a better lap and putting it all together that touch more but..nothing obvious," he said.
"I think we maximised the car last weekend. We just made some very small tweaks for this weekend. So it's not like we turned the car upside down and found anything new or something that suddenly works that didn't. It's just looking into more data, ironing out the little bits of inconsistencies and little things you struggle with and then more just down to me delivering the lap when I have to.
"Nothing that's surprising or nothing obvious. But also feeling like I did a good lap myself and a lot of it came from that."
Having missed out on pole position by just half a tenth of a second, the inevitable question of whether he could have extracted more pace from the car was asked. Norris explained that he possibly could have, but could have risked having his laptime deleted had he tried to exploit the limits of the track any further.
"Of course, there's always that little bit, but I'm sure Max would still say the same thing," he said.
"It's tough, because it's so easy to just run that little bit wide and get your lap deleted. I improved already quite a bit in those last few corners compared to the rest of my laps. So it's like risk versus reward and how much do you really risk and I think I took the risk, and I ended up where I did.
"If I think I had loads more opportunities, or you give me another opportunity, I don't necessarily think I would improve that much more. So we are where we are. I think throughout this year, we know we don't have a good enough car comparing to Red Bull or Mercedes in general. And maybe today we do but, considering how much quicker they were last weekend, I think it's obvious we struggled in a lot of areas. The car is not as quick as them and a lot of things are not possible compared to them. So I think I maximised our result. And that's all I can do."