Lando Norris hinted on less information regarding his decision but accepted his mistake as Andreas Seidl expanded on things from pitwall, while Daniel Ricciardo said he had a clear idea on his side.
One call was enough to decide the fate of McLaren’s Norris in F1 Russian GP as he went from being a hero to zero within few laps. Having lost to Carlos Sainz at the start, the Brit retook the lead that he held for most of the grand prix.
In the last part of the race, he had Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton gunning behind him. No one can predict if Norris would have defended and kept the seven-time F1 champion behind, but the McLaren racer most certainly had the chance to do so.
But his call to not pit along with McLaren’s pitwall, it was decisive at the end. While Norris seemed quite assertive on his side, his engineer didn’t which opened up a communication gap. In fact, the team couldn’t predict if the weather would go adverse.
On Hamilton side, being the chaser, it was slightly easier and after Max Verstappen pitted, they had to take the call. It was eventually a disaster for Norris and McLaren as they almost had the chance of the double win after Monza’s heroics.
Certainly, Norris was left dejected after the race, even though he had a bit of smile on his face, but deep down he was hurt. Even though he didn’t wish to speak much, he took the chance to elaborate on the decision making process.
Norris: “I don’t know where to start…unhappy, devastated in a way. We made a call to stay out and we stand by that call. Obviously, it was the wrong call at the end of the day. I made the decision just as much as the team, in fact, it was more that they thought I should box and I decided to stay out. It was my decision, I thought it was the way to go. It was difficult to predict, especially when there are two laps to go.
“With 20 to go, you are not as aggressive with decisions. We did what we thought was right which I am happy with. It was wrong at the end of the day. The guys did an excellent job and have done all weekend. I am happy with everything apart from that one decision which we will review and try not to make again.”
What was going on –
Norris: “When I was at the wall, when I had spun is when I realised the mistake. It is almost impossible when it is completely wet like that. I think the tricky thing is, there were those 4-5 laps when it was drizzling and we were making some mistakes like both were going off the track here and there but half the track was still completely dry, so the slick tyre was still completely fine. It is very difficult position to be in because you are the lead car and you have a guy pressuring you and you can’t do nothing.
“Look, the team told me what was going on and I made the decision, I also said that I want to stay out, so it is not the team’s fault. I made my decisions as well, they told me that it will only be drizzling like it was for those few laps but the thing is that it rained a lot more and that’s something that we didn’t know for some reason. I don’t know if other teams know for better that it was going to rain or not more, Mercedes seems to.”
Hanging on –
Norris: “The thing is we were not hanging on before the pit stop. Before Lewis stopped, the slick tyres was probably the tyre to be on, for the middle sector, the intermediate would have been quicker, but S1 and S3, the slick tyre was to be on, so at that point of time, and as the team was telling me, I made the right decision. They didn’t tell me that it will rain a lot more and slick tyres wasn’t to be on. I don’t think at that point, it was a risk beacuse we thought we were making the wrong decision, just not somehow seeing the rain getting harder is what caught us out.”
On the team side, Seidl took time to explain what happened from the pitwall side to media including FormulaRapida.net. He joked about having a ‘Hindsight Whatsapp Group’ and adding the journos in it. In seriousness, he noted of a full review back at the base.
He stated that there was constant communication between Norris and the pitwall, as they were taking onboard his say. Interestingly, Ricciardo at that moment decided to pit for inters and was doing well on those tyres, while the Brit struggled to work on the slicks.
Seidl acknowledged that in hindsight the team did make the wrong call, but added that this part of their learning in the journey of returning to the top. Up until that point, he reckoned the team did all the right things to come close to make it a double.
Ricciardo: “I speak purely…I heard about Lando’s race from the media, so I am speaking purely from my race and my view, I think that one I am asking the pitwall if the rain is getting heavier because this part of the track was more or less dry, it was the far part which was wet and we are the reference for that, so I said at Turn 5-Turn 7, I can’t keep on track anymore, so for me it was clear that I need to come for inter because Turn 7, I nearly went off close to the wall.
“It wasn’t even a question for me that I need inter. I think normally we are the best judge for that because we are the one feeling the track. Again, I am not speaking on Lando side, but from my side. In hindsight, one lap before was probably even better because we didn’t perfect it, I think it was a right call. From a team point of view, obviously, the more I stand here and talk the more I understand Lando’s race was a bit of a disaster at the end. It could have been a first or a second by the sound of it. From a team, there is encouragement with performance. There could have been more points but we will keep looking at it.”
Seidl: “As always in these tricky situations, it is a communication between the driver and the pit wall using all of the information we have available in terms of the weather forecast, what other cars are doing and trying to brief Lando at the same time and get feedback from Lando on how the track conditions are. That is how a decision was made whether to pit or not.
“Lando, with the information from us and what he was feeling on the track, he felt good staying out there on the slicks and in the end, we didn’t overrule him as a team. That is something we need to look into, to see what we could have done better. Of course, in hindsight, it was the wrong decision that we made as a team. But we win together, we lose together. The important thing is to learn from it, to analyse it and then move on.”
Overruling Norris if at all –
Seidl: “The driver has very limited information. That’s why he can only feed back what he feels on track, which he did. But at the same time, if we have firm information that it simply doesn’t make sense to stay out, we always have the possibility to overrule. And that’s exactly what we need to analyse as a team, if there would have been any point in this decision process today where we simply should have overruled him because he obviously doesn’t have all the information that we are having.”
No 100% on to stop –
Seidl: “If we would have been crystal clear from the team side, and convinced that it is 100% the right decision to stop, we would have stopped. So in the end, it was a close call. Of course it’s easy to say afterwards it was the wrong one, because that’s how it played out. But I think it was quite close to decide what is the right thing and that’s why I say it’s in the end a team decision together with Lando. The only thing we need to analyse is if there would have been any information available which should have led us to make a clear call. But in the end, with the information we had available at the time, with the weather forecast, with the feedback from Lando, in the end, we took this decision together.”
Being more assertive –
Seidl: “That’s exactly what we have to analyse now in detail: which information was available, and what did we do with it? In these tricky situations it’s a communication between the driver and the pitwall using all the information we have available in terms of weather forecasts, what other cars are doing, trying to brief Lando and at the same time get the feedback from Lando on how the track conditions are. Lando with the information you get from us as well and what he was feeling on track, he felt good staying out there on the slicks, and in the end we didn’t overrule him as a team.”
Seidl: “Following his radio, Lewis wanted to stay out and for him, obviously, he always had the chance to do the opposite of what we are doing. That is simply the race situation you are in if you are leading. So I wouldn’t say that this was the issue. At the same time, I think we have seen a lot of positives this weekend. Lando has done a sensational job. All weekend he did a sensational race and for sure, it didn’t end up in the result he would have deserved at the end of such a weekend.
“I think apart from the the last two or three laps what we have seen, again, from the team together with him, from his side yesterday when he pulled off the pole and also today in the race, it’s impressive what he’s pulling off only in his third year in Formula 1. And regarding team assessment, that’s always the first thing we do. It doesn’t matter what the outcome of a race, we can do this. But then at the same time, I think it’s also important to see all the positives from this week and also on his side and come back stronger in Turkey.”
Part of the learning –
Seidl: “Part of this journey is also that you have to accept that it doesn’t always go onwards and upwards. It’s a normal part of the sport. And you have days like today, which was a big disappointment. But it’s also an opportunity to stay humble, to stay both feet on the ground, to keep respect for all your competitors as well, and to simply keep learning.”
Here’s the final moment from Lando Norris: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-russian-grand-prix-how-norris-chances-of-maiden-race-victory-slipped-away-in-sochi-downpour.1711975610103870624.html
Here’s the moment when Lewis Hamilton passed Lando Norris: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-russian-grand-prix-norris-slides-off-track-in-pouring-rain-as-hamilton-takes-race-lead.1711972132401921087.html
Here’s Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton in an impromptu chat