Lando Norris reveals he suffered damaged steering on the final lap in the Singapore Grand Prix after hitting the same wall that sent George Russell into retirement.
Having elected to not stop under the Virtual Safety Car, Norris had been promoted to second behind race leader Carlos Sainz.
But as the race approached its closing laps, the duo had the Mercedes pair for company on fresh medium tyres behind.
The Briton had managed to resist the advances of Russell when the Mercedes driver clipped the wall approaching the left-handed Turn 10 corner on the final lap, sending him straight on into the barrier.
However, Norris says that he was fortunate to not suffer the same fate as Russell, conceding that he also tagged the same wall that curtailed his compatriot’s race.
“I hit the wall at the same lap – the last lap, the same place,” Norris disclosed. “So I think he copied me and just did it even worse.”
The impact left Norris fearing he would also lose a podium finish, disclosing that the steering on his McLaren MCL60 was damaged following the glancing blow.
He later added: “I hit it [the wall] with the front, so I kind of panicked a bit, thinking I’d maybe just messed it all up.
“It damaged the steering, it was off-centre, but luckily it was nothing more than that. An amazing race, stressful race from start to finish. A lot of management, but perfectly executed.
Norris admitted he felt for Russell, whom he believes was the fastest driver during Sunday’s race, but adds his crash afforded him an easier run to the end.
“I feel for him,” he continued. “He fought a tough race, he was the quickest today, I would say. It helped me a bit. The last couple of corners, I could chill just a little bit more.”
While Sainz initially upheld a relatively comfortable advantage out front, the Ferrari driver began to swiftly reduce his pace and fell into the clutches of Norris behind.
After Sainz revealed he had purposely handed his ex-McLaren team-mate DRS to protect his position from the charging Mercedes pair, Norris asserts the Spaniard’s strategical thinking also aided his race.
“Carlos was very generous trying to help me get DRS,” Norris remarked. “It helped my race and also helped his.
“We knew it was going to be tough as soon as the Mercedes boxed, especially with only a couple of cars for them to overtake. But we’re on the podium, P2, we had them off. We did everything we needed to do and more. So I’m super happy.”
With second place at the Marina Bay Circuit, Norris matched his best result of the year, achieved on two previous occasions at the British and Hungarian Grands Prix.
Despite a maiden F1 victory narrowly eluding his grasp once more, Norris asserts he never considered trying to overtake Sainz.
“It was protecting P2,” Norris said when asked about his focus in the final laps.
“George struggled to overtake me when he had a five, six-tenth second per lap advantage, so the chance of me getting ahead of Carlos with a maybe one-tenth advantage, there was no chance.
“I think like Carlos played it smart. There was no need for me to try and attack him. The more I attacked him, probably the more vulnerable I would have been from both the guys behind. I wouldn’t be sitting here and wouldn’t have been on the podium if I had played it different.
Norris has also denied that he was tempted to take advantage of pitting under the VSC as Mercedes did, citing the difficulty in overtaking around the Marina Bay Circuit.
“If it was a safety car, we would have boxed, but a VSC, not,” he declared. “I think on paper, and if there was no traffic to overtake, the Merc strategy was way, way faster. If we weren’t in the way, they’d have been 10 seconds ahead of us quite easily.
“There’s always the task of overtaking, which in Singapore is one of the hardest tasks. With a couple of those attacks from George, I think it put his tyres a little bit over the edge, and he didn’t attack me as much after that main attack that he did.
“It’s always a difficult challenge here in Singapore, the management, and looking after the tyre. You’re a bit dictated by the guys ahead of you and looking in the mirrors of the guys behind you.
“We did a perfect pitstop to get ahead of Charles, and a perfect strategy to get ahead of the Mercedes as well.”