“He was ahead, I tried to let him past,” Norris said. “I was like four car lengths away from the apex, and somehow he still crashed into me, impressive.
“I don’t know, I literally tried to let him past and somehow he crashed into me.”
Norris failed to be as competitive in race conditions as he had in qualifying, where he looked in with a chance of snatching pole position before a mistake during his final run in Q3.
Starting fifth, Norris would remain in his grid slot by the time the chequered flag fell. Despite the McLaren MCL60’s known limitations on slow-speed corners – with Norris citing Turns 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 in particular – the British driver was still expecting more on Sunday.
“We were expecting a little bit more, with the cooler temps, we were expecting the race pace to be a little bit stronger than we had today,” Norris acknowledged.
“We were definitely missing something but because of the lack of pace I had to push very hard to keep up with the Mercedes and Ferrari and when I did that I destroyed the tyres very quickly.”
Norris also added that the track position lost to George Russell during a lengthy first pit stop also contributed to his inability to make further progress during the race.
“It wasn’t like the Ferrari and Mercedes cleared off,” he added. “If I stayed ahead of the Mercedes in the pit stop, could I have just stayed ahead of him because of dirty air and things?
“Potentially, and when he [George Russell] caught Carlos [Sainz] it always just benefited him and sometimes I caught him at the end of the straight, then have to spend the whole lap behind him.
“So just a little bit unlucky at times, but George did a good job, Mercedes did a good job, so I’m not taking anything away from them. I think we didn’t have the pace, we didn’t have the pace we wanted.”
Despite not having the underlying pace he desired, Norris was still happy with the team outcome, stating that “we finished ahead of Aston [Martin] which was my main target.”
Norris’ fifth-place finish contributed to McLaren sealing fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship with 302 points, 22 ahead of fifth-placed Aston Martin, completing a mighty turnaround given the team’s struggles at the start of the year.
“If we were in Bahrain now, and we looked ahead, I’d be dreading the season already,” Norris concluded.
“So 7 podiums, all the great moments we had, were definitely not expected, world record pit stop, the team have done an amazing job in so many areas – maybe not the weekend we wanted to end the season with – but I‘m proud and we’re on the right track.”