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Lando Norris

McLaren qualifying performance not 'exceptional' – Norris

Lando Norris secured a second row start for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after qualifying ahead of both Ferrari drivers.

Norris China quali
To news overview © XPBimages

Lando Norris has downplayed McLaren impressively qualifying ahead of both Ferrari drivers at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Briton not labelling it as "something exceptional".

Both Norris and Oscar Piastri qualified ahead of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with the McLaren drivers to start from fourth and fifth at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Norris' time good enough for P4 was only one-tenth of a second quicker than Leclerc's 1:34.289, highlighting how close the field was behind the Red Bull one-two.

Because of this and the fact Ferrari typically boast better race pace than McLaren, Norris is not getting overly excited about qualifying ahead of the Italian outfit.

"I think it's a bit like Japan, we did a good qualifying," Norris told select media including RacingNews365.

"A little bit out of position relative to the Ferrari, but it's one-tenth we're quicker than them by so it's not like, wow, we've done something exceptional. One-tenth it can easily be that they've not done a great lap, and we've done a slightly better lap.

"There's always a tenth swing in kind of things, or one and a half tenths I would say."

Everyone 'quite bunched'

A stark feature so far at the Shanghai International Circuit has been just how close several teams are.

Both Stake F1 and Haas have demonstrated good pace, as demonstrated by Nico Hulkenberg qualifying ninth and Valtteri Bottas P10.

McLaren's key issue this season is tyre management and race pace, both of which are not a factor, of course, during qualifying.

Norris recognises that the car is in a good window over one-lap but that their issues reappear on a Sunday.

"But I mean it's close between a lot of people, even when you look at Sauber, very, very quick, impressively quick today," added Norris.

"Haas seemed like they were doing a good job as well. So everyone seems like they're actually quite bunched, and that includes us. But like Oscar [Piastri] said, it's qualifying, like the new tyres heel so many of our issues.

"But then like this morning, they kind of get proved out again, the older the tyres get, the more fuel you put in. So I think a lot of things are as we expected, just qualifying kind of, it's really a bit better. And we think that's why today was probably I'd say a good day."

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