Lando Norris says he had penalty fears for track limits as Sergio Perez chased him in closing stages of F1 Monaco GP, while adding on radio shut call.
The DNS for Charles Leclerc and DNF for Valtteri Bottas from F1 Monaco GP, helped McLaren’s Norris to be an automatic third after starting in fifth place. He had Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz close early on, but the Spaniard pulled away enough.
Post the pit stop, Norris had Red Bull’s Perez on his tail after the Mexican made up five places from ninth. The Mexican seemed like he would catch the McLaren driver by the end of the race, but eventually it wasn’t to be as the tyres started to drop.
For Norris, it was not an easy task, especially after he was shown black and white flag by the stewards for abusing Turn 10 track limits early in the race. The Brit had to cautious about it towards the end, as a penalty would have cost him the podium.
It was a surprise result for him and McLaren, though, as they felt the team were not quick enough for a podium, especially with Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari in play. Towards the end, for proper concentration, he asked his engineer to let him concentrate.
“I think we came into it with not many expectations… yeah, not many expectations at all but it turned into probably one of our best weekends altogether – bar maybe Imola,” said Norris. “The car’s been pretty good to drive, like, I’ve had a lot of confidence, I’ve felt very comfortable and I think that showed in qualifying with probably an alright package, not quite there yet to our immediate rivals – but with that confidence to push the car in qualifying, to be only two-tenths off was a pretty cool achievement for us, even though it was still P5.
“To then be there, make the most of other people’s mistakes, Bottas’s one with their pit stop, to grab a podium too, so it’s been a cool weekend, especially here in Monaco. It’s even more special than any other track. Looking at the race, the first stint we were pretty competitive. Pretty similar on pace to what Carlos was doing – and Bottas and Max.
“Maybe Max was slightly ahead – but I could see on the TV screens when I was going past what lap times Max was doing in the lead and I wasn’t that far behind. I was like, ‘OK, this is going well’. As soon as we put the Hard tyre on, yeah, it kind of turned to the opposite. It was a very hard car to drive.
“Much easier to lock-up and snatch the front, worse over the bumps and so on. Not a lot of confidence and, as soon as I heard where Sergio was in terms of his tyre strategy, how much later he boxed, I got pretty worried but I kept it on the black stuff, which is the most important, didn’t hit any walls, and as long as you are good out of the last corner and out of Turn 8, and you cover those two places well, he’s not going to pass,” summed up Norris, as he then explained the track limits fear and radio call.
“There was a new rule for this weekend,” started Norris. “In the chicane, if you missed the chicane you get a warning and to be honest I only like missed the first apex part, like the first part of the right and I still still went to the left of the second one and lost time in both, both times I locked up there, but I think by about lap seven I had used both my opportunities to go off the track which I’m sure – well it made my engineer Will extremely nervous and I’m sure it made certain other people very nervous too.
“So not an ideal start to the race, especially because I knew there were many more laps to go and the final stint, when you can be pushing more, if I made one more mistake and went off I would have a five-second penalty and Perez would be ahead of me. So yeah, I guess I was pushing a bit and doing a lot of fuel-saving at certain times and just slightly misjudged it and I missed the apex and I got my warning.
“And in the end I was telling Will to be quiet, because sometimes you just want to focus on what you need to be doing, just driving around the streets of Monaco and you just want to be in your zone, in that way of just driving round, missing the barriers, just feeling confident and not having to think of any other things. So, when he’s telling me there’s a guy 20 seconds ahead, it’s not something I cared too much about and I just wanted to concentrate on driving. Simple as that,” summed up Norris.
The second podium for Norris in four races helped him get back in third in the drivers’ standings, while McLaren stayed in front of Ferrari by two points. The result in Monaco, especially, took the team by surprise as they did not expect such result.
“I would say we definitely didn’t expect that in terms of pace, that we could be so close to Mercedes, Red Bull, and also Ferrari,” said Seidl to media including FormulaRapida.net. “We have seen since the beginning of the season, and in the first races, we were always struggling in the low speed sections, so that was really encouraging to see this weekend.
“For the championship, how the race played out was obviously a good outcome for us because, seeing the strong pace Ferrari had on Thursday and also on Saturday, yes there was high risk to lose a lot of points to them. Obviously we benefited from the bad luck of Charles, and it’s something you don’t wish for any to your competitors in that way.
“But it’s important to always be there when opportunities are there and that’s what we managed to do. The race came together with a flying Lando, and I think in terms of strategy the team did a great job and was spot on,” summed up Seidl.
Here’s how F1 Monaco GP panned out