Lando Norris was fine with the F1 Mexico GP strategy amid passing spree, as Andrea Stella recalls Valencia 2012 while praising his performance.
It was a mighty run from McLaren’s Norris in F1 Mexico GP to finish fifth after starting from 17th in the grand prix. He opted to start on the soft compound which he thinks was the correct choice as they wanted to get a clean and clear start on the softest tyre.
Even though he gained limited amount of places, it was fine as the idea was to switch to hard and go as long as possible to switch to either medium and or soft towards the end. The safety car period hampered the plans to use the soft compound.
They pitted to switch to mediums in an early call but the race was red-flagged. The re-start actually did not work for Norris who dropped down to 14th. But the way he fought back to pass nine cars in a mighty show – which included a team helped pass on Oscar Piastri.
He ended up fifth eventually after a messy qualifying in a solid recovery drive. At the end of it, the mindset was if only they were in Q3 but even a drive like in Mexico showed his capabilities which surprised himself whether it was the passes or preserving tyres.
He felt good passing George Russell and Daniel Ricciardo, as team boss Stella recalled the 2012 race in Valencia where Fernando Alonso started outside the Top 10 with Ferrari and ended up to win the grand prix when the Italian was part of that team.
Soft tyre start but a fun race –
Norris: “Absolutely, the soft start was good choice. It just helped me a bit in the start, off the line and things like that. It’s always tough in Turn 1, it can go your way, it can not go your way. But I think we played everything smart. I think we played it well. Maybe the safety car and a couple things weren’t perfect times for us. The VSC and so forth. But otherwise, I think everything pretty much went our way, and we maximised. The soft included. I enjoyed the whole thing, apart from my restart. I don’t know if you saw it. But I probably had to avoid a very big crash, just people coming across, not probably realising that people can be three abreast. So, I avoided two extremely big crashes, which would have been very nasty. So, a bit more self-awareness of some drivers would be great.”
Re-start trouble –
Norris: “You can see it from on board. It’s not why I lost out, I lost out because of a bad start. But I lost out even more because of these things. The pace was amazing: From already lap 1, there was a lot of management involved. On the radio when I came over line, the first time I got told to cool the engine. So, we maybe weren’t perfectly set up for these things. And I couldn’t maybe push as much as I wanted to at times. But in the times I could, which was a lot of the second stint. The pace was excellent, to go from 14th/15th to fifth, to have better pace than almost everyone bar Hamilton and Max was very encouraging for us. So yeah, as perfect of a day as I could probably ask for.”
Team work with Piastri and passing Russell, Ricciardo –
Norris: “I didn’t ask to go past or anything. I was happy to race against him. It was clear just from pace and points that I eventually went on to get that it was the correct thing to do from a team perspective. Thanks to Oscar. And yes, George didn’t make it easier but neither did Daniel! Deep down, because I know those guys, not really well. I know Daniel, he’s not going to want to give it up easily. Two tough ones, but enjoyable, all the racing up after the restart was fair, tough and hard. And that’s when it’s good fun.”
What could have been –
Norris: “Of course, of course. I think that’s why right, I know people complain at why I’m so disappointed at times. And it’s because of days like today. Of course, I’m going to be disappointed, right? Like there’s a chance to finish on the podium and get another trophy, score more points. Why would I ever be happy about a day like yesterday? I moved on very quickly, I moved on better than I did in Qatar. And we put a lot of focus on today. That was evident, and then it paid off. I’m never going to be happy after a day like yesterday, right? Because I know what we’re capable of doing. And when you have a day like today, then you think of the ‘what could have been’? There’s too many ‘what could have been’ at the minute. I just need to tidy some things up, and then things can start to roll.”
Summing up Norris’ fight –
Stella: “This race made me think of Valencia 2012. At the time we started 11th and then we won the race. We were having exactly this conversation on the pitwall. Will Joseph, his race engineer, turned to me and he said: ‘That’s one of Lando’s best!’ And I said: ‘Will, that’s one of the best of all!’. So many overtakes in Mexico, when yesterday if you read the quotes everyone was saying it’s so difficult to overtake, while managing power unit temperatures, and having to do lift and coast. I’m just impressed. One of the best days for a driver that I have been part of. On one side, we are excited having seen this kind of masterpiece. On the other side, like Lando said on the in-lap, let’s do a good job on Saturday and we can fight for podiums. The pace was there to fight for podiums.”
Frustration of qualifying –
Stella: “There is a little element of frustration, but at the same time, if you asked me yesterday, nowhere near would I have thought we could have overtake so many cars. I’d rather take the positive out of this race and I hope that the entire team at the factory and all the fans receive the same sort of message. We are there. We don’t give up. We are competitive. But we need to do a better job overall over a race weekend.”
Strategy, pace of the car –
Stella: “We were in a position to be the second best car, possibly shared with Hamilton. But even the stint that Lando did when he went on hard, because we wanted to elect a strategy that would give us as much free air as possible. So after the 10 laps on soft, we went on hard and that pace was even strong. It was a controlled pace because we wanted to go very-very long and then have a final stint on the medium or even soft depending on how long we would have gone. We were nervous going on the medium tyres in red flag.”
Here’s how F1 Mexico GP panned out
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