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Lando Norris

Norris rues 'messy' Abu Dhabi Friday despite McLaren encouragement

The McLaren driver ended the day quicker than Max Verstappen and second quickest, but felt the multiple red flags prevented him from extracting the most.

Norris Abu Dhabi
To news overview © XPBimages

Lando Norris finished second fastest in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but felt it was a "messy" day after two red flags interrupted running.

The McLaren driver finished just 0.043s off the best time set by Charles Leclerc, after sitting out FP1 to let IndyCar driver Patricio O'Ward drive as part of the rookie driver regulations.

Norris completed a total of 18 laps, owing to the stoppages caused by Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.

The most lengthy of the two was Sainz, who crashed at Turn 3 and damaged the TecPro safety barriers.

Even though he ended the day quicker than Max Verstappen, Norris felt that it was not the most optimal when speaking to F1 TV: "Messy today. Not many laps, I had about five push laps in total," he said.

"Not the Friday that I would want, especially from an FP2 perspective and trying to make up laps on everyone."

McLaren looks closer to its form shown in Brazil, with team-mate Oscar Piastri also finishing 10th quickest.

"We're more confident here than we were in Vegas and a couple of other races," added Norris.

"[We didn't complete] many high fuel laps, so we're a little bit behind from a long run perspective but I feel like I can make that up [in final practice]."

Norris anticipates 'very close' qualifying

Norris expects that it will be a tight qualifying session, after the top 15 all finished within a second of each other at the end of FP2.

"I got comfortable and confident very quickly, which is very important on a day when you miss FP1," he said.

"I could push on the car, it was performing pretty well, a few things to look into but otherwise a decent day.

"It's going to be very close. One or two-tenths is easily five or six positions [lost], so it's not that you feel first or last.

"I think it's about finding the little things that can make a big difference in qualifying."

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F1 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix RN365 News dossier