Lando Norris has admitted his McLaren team made a mistake with set-up during this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, by running too much downforce on the car.
“We got it wrong, we were way too high on downforce,” he said after the race.
Norris endured a rollercoaster of a Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, dropping from seventh on the grid to outside the points-scoring places early on, struggling on hard tyres mid-race and finally clawing his way back to where he started to finish seventh by the time the chequered flag fell.
Norris was clear that the issue plaguing him the most on Sunday was an alarming lack of straight-line speed.
“I was just barely making eighth gear, we were that slow in the straight,” said Norris.
“I just couldn’t defend, I couldn’t attack.
“It was impossible to overtake; I didn’t overtake one person on the straight today.
“We were too slow,” stated Norris, a damning verdict of his and McLaren’s race.
Putting his straight-line struggles into perspective, Norris went on to detail a battle with Williams’ Alex Albon, which laid bare the alarming disparity between the two machines.
“I had a run on Alex [Albon] out of Turn 1,” he said.
“I was coming at him out of Turn 1, I had new tyres, he had old tyres, and I think by the end of the straight, he pulled, like, three or four car lengths on me,” Norris bemoaned.
“This was me with DRS, using overtake.
“It was just painful.”
Despite Norris’ clear frustration with the limitations bestowed upon his MCL60 in Sunday’s Grand Prix, he still picked up vital points to solidify McLaren’s fifth place in the constructors’ championship with a seventh-place finish.
This came about after trying a stint on the hard tyre, which Norris noted, ‘was not good enough’ and a subsequent final stint on the soft-compound Pirelli rubber.
“We were somehow in seventh, we undercut like 10 cars,” said Norris, speaking of how his race developed after the switch to softs.
“I thought I was going to be boxing again, and they were like, ‘Okay we are going to try and go to the end.’
“I pushed the tyres so much in the beginning, I thought my race was going to be over again and I was going to start to struggle too much.
“But we kept the tyres alive and still managed to finish P7, stay ahead of Esteban, who was closing quite quickly in the last couple of laps, so I’m happy.”
Finishing ahead of Ocon’s Alpine meant Norris put another two points between McLaren and the Enstone-based squad in the constructors’ standing, stretching the margin to 46 points.