McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran has defended rookie Lando Norris after he slipped down the order in Melbourne.
Competing in his first Formula 1 race weekend, the McLaren rookie qualified P8 for Sunday’s race, a performance that shocked the world of motorsport.
The 19-year-old would get stuck behind the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi in the first part of his second stint which allowed Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly to jump him, meaning he finished the race P12.
Despite this, de Ferran felt it was unfair to criticise the youngster for failing to move ahead of Giovinazzi.
“Listen, it’s his first grand prix,” he told Autosport.
“I’m sure if he plays it back, one would hope that he would think he could do this better and that better.
“That’s one of Lando’s great attributes, his ability to think through his own performance and analyse very carefully what he’s doing inside the car, his decision making and so on.
“That ability to be self-critical and open minded, in my summation, is something that’s going to serve him well.”
Had the car for points, but I didn’t get ‘em. First race out of the way though and got to say thanks to everyone at the track or back home on the sofa who gave me a nod this weekend. Special few days that I’ll not forget 🥛 #AusGP pic.twitter.com/dXzRCb68E4
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) March 17, 2019
As for the weekend overall, de Ferran believes their prospect “drove like a veteran”.
“He did a great job overall,” he said.
“He really didn’t put a foot wrong the whole weekend.
“A lot of control and discipline, he peaked when he had to pace-wise in qualifying, and in the race we were just unfortunate with the Giovinazzi train.
“Other than that I think he managed himself really well and frankly drove like a veteran in many ways.
“He had both to attack and defend during the race, had to manage his pace and the tyres and I think he did that very well.”
Even though he is the youngest driver on the grid, de Ferran believes Norris at no point looked out of place.
“He certainly didn’t feel out of place,” the McLaren sporting director stated.
“It was a good performance and it was a shame that he didn’t come home with a few points, which was entirely in the realms of possibility had the race gone a bit differently.”