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Lando Norris

Norris explains McLaren decision after Sprint 'gamble' backfires

Lando Norris did not have the Sprint race he was hoping for at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the Briton slipping from P10 on the grid to a final position of P17.

Norris Baku Sprintrace
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Lando Norris has explained why McLaren took a "gamble" in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sprint race which ultimately did not pay off.

The team opted to start Norris on the Soft tyre but the compound degraded quicker than they had anticipated, resulting in the Briton having to make a pit-stop in the 17-lap event.

After starting from P10 on the grid, Norris eventually finished the race down in P17.

Speaking after Saturday's running in Baku, Norris reflected on why McLaren took the decision.

Norris on Baku 'gamble'

"We knew is was a little bit of a gamble," Norris told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"We didn't just go in and think, 'This is the biggest gamble ever'.

"We still just thought it would not be a bad thing to do, [to] have a better launch, a better first opening couple of laps, try to get into a good position, knowing that there's a good chance there could be some Safety Cars and VSCs [Virtual Safety Cars] and things.

"Being on the softer tyre, that point might not be too bad. But I think everyone who did do the Soft or made a similar mistake struggled a lot with the degradation.

"It was definitely a lot more than we thought."

'Challenge' of new Sprint format

Norris admits that the new Sprint weekend format – featuring a Sprint Shootout in place of Free Practice 2 – added to the "challenge" of preparing with a lack of practice running.

"I guess it's one of the challenges with this structure of weekend, not getting to do any long running on the Softs," he explained.

"I guess that's part of the challenge, but we also maybe just didn't do the best job of trying to understand it and things.

"But it's tough when you haven't run it until then [for] more than three laps. So yeah, [it was] not purely a gamble, but just what we thought was best and obviously wasn't, so it's a tyre I'll probably stay away from tomorrow."

Norris will start Sunday's Grand Prix from P7, with teammate Oscar Piastri in P10.

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