Lando Norris was surprised and shocked with a podium result in F1 Emilia Romagna GP especially after the Bahrain weekend as Andreas Seidl concurs.
For McLaren and more particularly, Norris, third place finish in Imola must have felt like a championship title compared to where the Woking concern were back in Bahrain. The team were then a shadow of last season. It was a gradual improvement in results, 15th place was followed by seventh, fifth and last Sunday he ended up on the podium.
It was a tidy drive, which started with an impressive qualifying netting third for the sprint. He slipped back to fifth but for the main event, it was a good consistent fight to finish third. He was running fourth but a mistake from Charles Leclerc allowed him him to be on the podium. Some weeks back, they were no where this stage so it’s a massively unexpected bonus for both parties.
He was certainly shocked by the results. “Surprised I guess to be here, but feels amazing,” said Norris. “So, from where we were, what, three weeks ago, four weeks ago, a month, in Bahrain to be on a podium, I genuinely didn’t think we would be on the podium all year after Bahrain. So it’s quite a shock”.
“Maybe not surprising after the kind of progress we’ve made over the last month but yeah definitely not a podium with how much quicker the Red Bulls and the Ferraris are. It’s hard to ever imagine yourself on the podium and a great result would have been P5. But a few good things throughout this race, you know, an amazing start to be ahead of the Ferrari’s, to stay out of the chaos which happened behind, just I guess a lonely but a great race”.
“I was just managing the gap to George, looking after the tyres for the whole stint, everything just went well all weekend to be honest. Not just the race today, but qualifying P3 already was a pretty good achievement for us. So great weekend. Nice to see the improvements we’ve been bringing and to reward everyone with a podium is even better,” summed up Norris.
That end result for them now is so well documented, a nail-biter but it also came down to strategy for the day that was in it with the conditions. Norris noted how difficult it was still for him despite being lonely for most part of the grand prix.
“The start already is always a bit more stressful,” said Norris. “I had such a good one, I kind of got behind Sergio I think, and got a bit squeezed by Charles onto the kerb, so I had a bit of a moment there. But just kind of choosing when to go onto the Mediums, you put one wheel slightly wide or tight or whatever and you lock-up, you’re in a gravel, you’re out”.
“So, every lap in these conditions, it’s hard to describe, I guess, to the viewer but inside, you have to push so much, you have to manage the tyres but then your line has to be perfect and if you put yourself a little bit wide or you hit a kerb wrong – like you probably saw, you’re spinning and you’re in the wall or something”.
“So it’s just stressful, every lap like this. It feels like such a long race as well – makes it even more rewarding when you cross the line at the end,” summed up Norris. Team boss Seidl was a happy man too. In praise of his charges, even though the end result for Daniel Ricciardo was a massive disappointment, there is still a long way to in the season even though Ferrari and Red Bull are in a league of their own as things stand, he knows too the whole team are working together as a team and this was a well executed end result .
“Obviously very happy for the entire team being able to score a podium,” said Seidl to media including FormulaRapida.net. “Well executed race by the team, good drive from Lando, having it under control at any moment in terms of tyre management, in terms of risk management as well. Great pit stops again from the team”.
“It’s great to see that we have this consistency in there as well and great to see that we have confirmation now that Melbourne was just a one off but that actually the MCL36 is a good car and a solid foundation for all the further developments that are in the pipeline now. It was great to see on normal conditions really this weekend that we were competitive and that we have in the end the third fastest team this weekend”.
“Of course, scoring a podium in the current situation one of the two cars need to have an issue at the moment from the Red Bulls and the Ferrari’s because they seem to be a big step ahead in terms of performance but at the same time it’s not just about performance it’s about putting the race weekend together as well which we did this weekend it was great to see,” summed up Seidl.
Bahrain was a wake-up call for McLaren but in fairness they have progressed bit by bit, step by step and they are heading in the right direction, however what also assisted them has been the small upgrades which they have implemented each week since Bahrain and now it looks to be paying dividends.
“Obviously Bahrain was a shock for us and a big disappointment and painful because of the performance we have shown there and the result and the outcome,” said Seidl. “It was the first race of the season in a completely new car where it was impossible to judge how the real pecking order is”.
“Of course, we knew that we had a lot of issues going into that first race with the second test but at the same time it was impossible to judge how much of the result was affected by that. It was just important to stay calm, protect the team and give everyone the chance to get on with their job and trust that we had everything in the team in order to come back strong”.
“I said on Friday it was just important we used the next weekend in order to catch up in terms of everything we had lost with the issues we had in the test in Bahrain and then I guess we saw the true potential of what his car has. In addition, with obviously some smaller upgrades we brought with us last couple of race weekends,” summed up Seidl.
Their battle with Ferrari in 2021 was a huge highlight of the campaign. The Maranello concern have moved on massively but McLaren after a sluggish beginning have overcome their gremlins reasonably quickly and are headed in the right direction.
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