How McLaren driver Lando Norris worked through the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi and the missed first Formula 1 victory and what he learned from it.
Only a few kilometers separated him from the greatest success of his motorsport career to date, but Lando Norris missed his first Formula 1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi due to a weather change. Together with his McLaren team , he has therefore set out on a search for clues. Subject: What could he and his crew have done better?
According to Norris, McLaren spent two days working intensively on exactly this question immediately after the race in Sochi. “We looked at everything again, from the first lap to the end. With priority on the last ten laps, of course,” says Norris.
He and the team wanted to know how they could have brought the situation to a better end together. Specifically: “How can I help the team better and how can the team help me? We just put all communication to the test,” said the McLaren driver.
Communication as a factor
In fact, the intensive exchange between race engineer Peter Bonnington and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes was a factor that had a decisive impact on the final phase of the Grand Prix. With McLaren and Norris, however, there was far less extensive discussion on the radio. The race result is known.
So now the analysis at the McLaren plant in Woking. “We asked ourselves how we would talk to each other so that we could do better next time,” explains Norris. “I’m not saying what we have learned, but we have learned a lot. That is no guarantee, but hopefully we can do better next time.”
For himself he “took a lot with him,” says Norris. Because he was primarily concerned with building an understanding of how to proceed more cleverly in a similar situation.
“The thing is, it’s complicated. When you watch the race on TV, everything looks so simple, as if it were the easiest decision in the world. But it’s not that simple. There are so many factors involved, one to make good and correct decision. “
Any other chances of top results?
And in retrospect it is clear: Staying out longer on slicks, even though the track was getting wetter and wetter, was not a good idea from Norris’ point of view. At Hamilton, on the other hand, the earlier tire change to intermediates was worthwhile, because this strategy was rewarded with the Sochi victory.
But Norris believes there will be more opportunities with McLaren. In the remaining races of the season in 2021, his package with the MCL35M is “hopefully everywhere” as competitive as it was recently in Monza or Sochi. Norris explicitly mentions Austin and Mexico City as potentially good McLaren routes, but overall that is “difficult to say” in advance.
Reason: “We didn’t expect to look so good in Sochi and so bad in Zandvoort. Even so late in the year we are still learning about the car and what it does fast or slow. But of course we also want to find out what it takes so that we are always fast and never slow in 2022. “