Fernando Alonso teases Lando Norris as Saudi GP ‘jump start’ quip made

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris smiling in Bahrain.

Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris smiling.

Lando Norris admits McLaren are “super super slow” on the straights in Jeddah, as Fernando Alonso took the time to point out, meaning Norris joked a “jump start” may be the answer for battling the Aston Martin driver.

While Red Bull’s Max Verstappen stormed to Saudi Arabian Grand Prix pole, the tussle to complete the front row was fierce, Fernando Alonso slotting into P4 yet less than a tenth down on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who clinched that P2 spot.

Fernando Alonso jokes about McLaren straight-line struggles

Norris meanwhile was forced to settle for P6, falling three-tenths short of Alonso as he now fears for his chances of battling the two-time World Champion on Grand Prix Saturday, considering the MCL38 is looking weak in a straight line at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

And as Norris headed for the TV pen, an all-smiles Alonso could be seen engaging in conversation with the Brit, who was asked by Sky F1 to spill the beans.

“He said we’re not going to battle because we are so slow on the straights we can’t even overtake them,” said Norris.

After confirming that he meant McLaren are struggling on the straights, Norris was asked what is possible on race day, as he joked that a “jump start” may be needed.

“I have no idea. Jump the start. I’m not sure,” he said with a smile.

“It’s hard to know, like last weekend they qualified ahead the Astons and we got them in the race. It’s a bit trickier here I would say to overtake in general, it’s difficult to follow, tyre deg is less, so you need bigger deltas in order to overtake and we’re super super slow on the straight.

“It’s going to be a tough ask for us tomorrow. But I think we’re in a good position, today was a good day from what I felt. I feel like I did a good lap at the end.

“I was a little bit compromised with only one set of new tyres for Q3, but we chose to do that, we knew that was something that could happen to try and help us for tomorrow with another new set of mediums, but it was a good day I think.”

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Norris will play his part in an all-McLaren third row for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix start, with the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton lining-up behind.

And while Norris returned to the idea that McLaren’s straight-line pace is a handicap, he confirmed that the intention is to keep Mercedes at bay.

“That’s the plan,” he affirmed. “I think it’s tough again, like I said, because we’re so slow on the straight.

“But it’s an interesting track. It’s not as simple as just saying where you qualify is where you’re going to finish. But it’s also difficult in certain scenarios to do a lot.

“So it’ll be our plan, they are the guys we seem most close to between last weekend and this weekend. Obviously Aston seemed a bit further ahead today, but tomorrow that could change. We’re close, we’re not far away and anything can happen here, so we’ll keep pushing.”

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit has not proven the happiest of hunting grounds for Norris in his F1 career so far, with a P7 finish in 2022 his best result at the venue to date.

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