Lando Norris revealed he could have qualified as high as third for Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix if traffic had not got in the way on his final flying lap.
Norris, who has been on impressive form this year and nearly took a front row spot at the last race in Imola, set the second-fastest time in Q1 and the third in Q2 but ended up seventh in the final part of the session.
He explained: “The final run I did on the new tyre [but] I had some traffic and I couldn’t do a good lap, so a little bit frustrating because we could have been three or four positions higher if we had maximised it.
“We did a good job, we were quick, I felt like I did a good job myself, managing the conditions and just doing some good laps. It was quite easy to mess it up and make a mistake like some people did and end up [out] in Q1 or Q2 so I was happy.
“The only mistake was at the end, with the Aston [Martin] coming out a lap later than us, I thought he would stay ahead of the Red Bull but he let him past and I was just way too close to start my lap.
“So, I didn’t do a new tyre in the final [session] which, for sure, could have put me fourth or third if it was a good lap. A little bit annoyed with that but it’s more just unlucky than my mistake.”
Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo failed to make it out of Q1 after some scrappy laps left him down in 16th but the pace shown by both drivers in the practice sessions suggest McLaren certainly not out of the picture for points.
The teams behind pacesetters Mercedes and Red Bull are closely matched and Alpine has stepped up into that mix to join Ferrari, AlphaTauri and McLaren, with Aston Martin also showing signs of promise.
The changing wind direction and a lack of grip from the tyres on the slippy surface has made things extremely challenging and unpredictable for many drivers and Norris believes that could play a key part in how the race develops on Sunday.
Norris added: “For a normal person, it’s just wind and you wouldn’t think it makes much difference, but these cars are so specific in the way they’re built that a little bit of wind in the wrong direction can change the car completely.
“The car’s not easy to drive and it’s easy to make mistakes. I think we have good pace and I am sure everyone’s struggling with similar problems. People are also suited to different tyres so it will be interesting to see the differences tomorrow.”
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