McLaren never expected they’d be as quick as they were in qualifying for this weekend’s Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix, according to driver Lando Norris, who took a career best fourth.
The British racer will start alongside Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after posting a lap just over a tenth slower whilst the two dominant Mercedes’ start ahead, with Valtteri Bottas leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Norris admitted that McLaren never expected to be so high, but said his MCL35 “came alive” on lower fuel, giving him the confidence to attack the Red Bull Ring.
“I think we had our expectations of where we thought we wanted to be and from the very beginning the Racing Points have clearly been extremely quick.
“We never thought we’d be in with a chance of beating them or getting close to them but as we went to lower fuel, the car started to come alive and it felt much better.
“This track last year was very good for us, we had good confidence in the car and it suits it.”
F1 will make two visits to the Red Bull Ring this season with another race next weekend, and Norris is keen to capitalise on that, adding: “Hopefully the race tomorrow goes well and we have two weekends of this and hopefully we can repeat it as well.”
Norris is taking a cautious attitude to tomorrow’s race though, given there are some fast cars starting behind him.
“I mean they [Racing Point] were definitely quicker than us on Friday. Like I said, we weren’t expecting this at all.
“I’d 100 per cent take [this result] for now but as much as I’ll be looking ahead to the race and trying to look forward I think there’s a lot of cars behind us – Ferrari especially, their race pace is very strong; for some reason their qualifying pace is a long way off but so is the Racing Point’s.
“They have a good car, a lot of downforce, I think they can look after their tyres slightly better than us so it’s going to be a difficult job, but as long as I can stay around where I am then I’ll be happy.”