Andreas Seidl says McLaren thought of pushing Lando Norris to chase Valtteri Bottas in F1 Austrian GP, but gave in, as the drivers talk through their races.
It was another third place finish for Norris and McLaren in F1 Austrian GP after a good showing, with the gap to Bottas at 2.046s between them in the end. A 5-second penalty for the incident with Sergio Perez lost the Brit, what would have been a career best result.
Taking the penalty out of the equation, debatable for Norris looked most likely to happen, something which McLaren team boss Seidl indicated. “I think there was a good chance to score P2 because we have seen with being in front of Valtteri, it’s difficult for him to overtake with the pace Lando had,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“That’s why it’s a bit annoying, that’s why Lando was also a bit frustrated when crossing the start-finish line. In the end there were a lot of, a lot of positives today, which gives us good energy, good motivation to simply keep going in the direction we are heading to at the moment. And hopefully we can have races like this more often.”
After Norris cleared Lewis Hamilton, the last 10 laps or so saw the gap remain quite steady between him and Bottas. The Brit saved his tyres quite admirably in the second stint but dirty air appeared to hold him back. Seidl agreed that they thought of pushing at one point, when asked by FormulaRapida.net, but gave in afterwards.
“At some point we though there is a chance to attack him,” said Seidl. “But then as soon as Lando got into dirty air, after Lando could save the tyres quite a bit at the beginning of the second stint, which allowed him to get close then, it was simply not possible to attack. And then Valtteri was just too strong.”
For Norris, it was another third place finish, following on from a good drive at the same venue that netted fifth from a fourth place on the grid. This week saw a front row start and almost pole. Pre-race, the Brit was happy to finish fifth again, but he surprised himself and McLaren too, with the good pace against Mercedes.
“We didn’t’ really know what to expect, more because our race pace on Friday wasn’t too bad,” said Norris. “It was already a step better than the first Austria weekend. But also, the track temperature and ambient temperature were helping us a lot so I think relatively we made a step forward from first weekend.
“I was what, fourth in quali and two-and-a-half tenths off pole and now we were second and half-a-tenth off pole, so we did make a step forward and I think the car was definitely better and nicer to drive, both in qualifying and the longevity of a race.
“I think just the conditions also helped and our approach to the strategy was a little bit different this weekend compared to the last one after doing our homework and learning from a few things to try to improve on. So, it was a number of things but yeah, the car being slightly better was the main one,” summed up Norris, who surprised not just the Mercedes team, but also Bottas, with his pace.
It was fifth podium finish for Bottas and his best of 2021 in second. The Finn showed good pace all-through and hung with the front-runners, especially teammate Lewis Hamilton, but he noted that it wasn’t an easy outing as Mercedes are having a tough time right now.
“I can’t say it was really smooth,” said Bottas. “It was not an easy race for us and starting fifth and ending up second, I think we really had to fight to get to the place we were. I didn’t think there was much left on the table for us. Max had a really straightforward race.
“He was quick, their car was quick, so I think second was ultimately what we could get from today and yeah, it was not so easy to do the one-stop. Definitely suffering a bit with the tyres but we knew that would be the case anyway,” summed up Bottas.
If we look at the fight, Mercedes and Red Bull have been on the pace all season which surprise no one, but following on from last weekend, McLaren in terms of raw speed possibly made the biggest improvement, as per Bottas.
“Red Bull’s pace, no surprise,” said Bottas. “We saw first week of Austria that they were fast and of course we expected them to be fast again, no doubt. I think McLaren made a good step. They were definitely putting some pressure to us in the end and it was quite surprising considering there was quite a few tenths of pace difference from first week.
“So, I don’t know, maybe Lando can tell me later what they found from the week before and then we can improve,” summed up Bottas, who clarified what happened in the early part of the first stint, where he was easing off from Hamilton deliberately.
“I was just trying to play the long game and trying not to kill the tyres,” said Bottas. “I saw Lewis was putting quite a bit of pressure on Lando without really trying to be close and sliding around and just decided to back off slightly and knowing that most likely it could be one stop and try to have good tyres at the end of the stint, so that was the thinking and I think in the end that was the right thing.”
The story was written by Neil Farrell
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