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Lando Norris

Norris sheds light on root of his McLaren qualifying 'struggles'

McLaren's Lando Norris has explained reasons he believes to be at the heart of qualifying performances he is unhappy with, describing "tough" Saturdays where he is unable to drive at "100%".

Norris
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Lando Norris has disclosed what he believes to be at the root of his “tough” qualifying sessions where he struggles to “get everything out of” his McLaren.

Having started the current F1 season qualifying seventh in Bahrain and sixth in Saudi Arabia, the British driver has turned in back-to-back second row Saturday performances – achieving fourth on the grid in Australia before lining up third in Japan.

However, the 24-year-old is not satisfied that he’s able to extract what he needs to out of his McLaren on a regular basis, something he feels is an ongoing theme in qualifying.

“Maybe qualifying is the one where I find it a little bit tough to get everything out of the car,” he pondered, when speaking with media including RacingNews365 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

“But from my side, as I said last weekend, trying to get everything out of the car in quali[fying] I struggle with a bit, on myself, and also just with how we are as a team.”

When asked what the cause of those difficulties were, Norris explained it was due to the “understanding of the car”, before adding that “things are always changing.”

“Yes, it’s a McLaren and there are certain things that it takes time to pick up on. But everything else is still changing around it – slowly tweaking the aerodynamics over the years, and stuff, to adapt quite a bit to those characteristics.”

'I can't even drive at 100%'

Norris believes that a central part of his issues in qualifying relate to not being able lean on the ground-effect era McLarens in the way that he would like to and having to drive within himself.

“In qualifying, I've always been wanting to push quite a bit more in certain areas and kind of want to go out and just be attacking,” he said.

“I have to do the complete opposite. It's a hard one to get my head around, because I want to go out and find another level in qualifying and you can't do that with these tyres in with and with our car. You almost have to drive it the opposite way.”

The 14-time podium finisher agrees with his team principal Andrea Stella’s view that the McLaren has to be driven within its limit, something Norris feels is “complicated” and “difficult.”

“I can’t even drive at 100%,” Norris contended. “100% works one lap in 10. So, when you want to go into Q3 and put your best lap on, it might be that one lap you have to drive at 98% or something. It’s just a complicated thing – difficult to be on the limit.”

			© Pirelli
	© Pirelli

'The older regulations were easier to drive'

The 24-year-old has said that he hasn’t been able to adapt to the requirements of the ground-effect McLarens quick enough, citing how his comfort with the old regulations is hurting him now.

“From being used to the cars a few years ago, that's kind of punishing me now, I'm not adapting quick enough,” Norris explained. “The older regulations were easier to drive and to find the limit. This new car and new tyres are three years old – [but] still the same issues.

“But that's something that's up to me. That's my job to adapt and to do a better job, just with how our car is and how we have to drive it.

“It's always been said, and it continues, to be quite a tricky car to drive - to execute a perfect qualifying lap every single time is not an easy thing to do.”

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