McLaren’s Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz qualified respectively P10 and P13 for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, a result that indicated a bit of a backslide for the papaya squad compared to last weekend’s round at Silverstone.
It was the first time this season that McLaren had failed to place both its cars among the top-ten, and Norris’ initially reacted to his result with a despondent “We’re last!”, referring to his final position in the Q3 shootout.
But the 20-year-old eventually admitted that closing out the top-ten wasn’t all that bad of a performance.
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“Not a bad qualifying, to be honest,” he said. “P10 maybe doesn’t sound great in terms of position, but I think this weekend we’re realistically a bit more in-position and we knew this wind wouldn’t play in our favour.
“I think the Renaults, with Daniel, were considerably quicker, showing that their car is very competitive, and both Racing Points are doing a good job of extracting performance – Albon too.
“I think we’re where we expected to be, so I’m not really disappointed. I don’t think there was much more in the car.
“There was a little, I think mainly because of the wind changing in the second run or into Q3, as I struggled a bit more with the car than in Q2.
“It wasn’t easy – the car’s not hooked up. It’s trickier to drive this weekend because of the wind conditions, but still not a bad position to be in for tomorrow.”
Norris’ teammate Carlos Sainz lamented his MCL35’s lack of top speed down Silverstone’s straights and justified the underperformance by some bodywork changes justified by cooling concerns that emerged during FP3.
“When the qualifying started we saw that the others went a little faster than last weekend, while we were stalled a bit,” Sainz told the media..
“If you add to that the fact that we had a problem in my car in FP3. We saw that the temperature of the car was much higher, and we had to open the rear cooling holes a lot to cool it. That cost us top speed, which is essential here.
“I’m a bit frustrated about that, because it’s another little problem that adds to the list. Anyway, I think we’re not in such a bad position for tomorrow.”
For some reason, the cooling issues were more severe on the Spaniard’s car, with no bodywork changes necessary on Norris’ MCL35.
“You can see in the two cars, one has the cooling holes in the back more closed and the other is much more open. That here costs a lot of drag and top speed,” he added.
“If we wanted to race tomorrow, we had to change this bodywork, there was no other way. Tomorrow I will try to start full gas, as always, I will try to come back.
“But today I am a bit surprised with how much Renault, Racing Point, even AlphaTauri have improved in qualifying. They have found something this weekend that we could not find.”
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