Lando Norris has spoken of his pride at earning his first front-row start in Formula 1, while admitting he was “nervous” about his final run in Q3.
The McLaren driver exceeded expectations by missing out on pole position by just 0.048s behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out in Q2 for the fourth time in five races, with the Briton making the most of his machinery to start ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez and both Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Despite pole position slipping away by such a fine margin, he was pleased with his afternoon’s work around the Red Bull Ring, albeit admitting he had been pensive about his final flying lap before launching into it.
“I’m happy enough – I’m happy with P2,” Norris told Sky F1 after being informed he had been ahead of Verstappen’s lap time heading into the final two corners.
“I’m super-happy, of course, mixing it with the big guys. But I’m a racing driver, so I’ve got to blame that they’ve got a better car and they’re able to do things I’m not!
“But I don’t have any excuses. We are where we are and I feel like I pretty much maximised everything – even with the last corner, it was the best last corner I did.
“We’d struggled there since day one here, it’s one of the corners we have a bit of a weakness in. I don’t need to talk about that, I’m really happy with P2 – my best qualy in Formula 1, one of my best laps in Formula 1.
“It’s a good feeling, so I look forward to tomorrow.
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“I was actually a bit nervous coming into the final run and I was slower on the straights than my previous best lap because I didn’t have as much of a slipstream compared to that previous lap.
“I made up for it in the corners – I had a better exit out of Turn 1, which also helped. Max was four seconds ahead of me [on the road], so that still helps.
“Maybe there could have been that bit more if I’d just had a little bit more of a tow from another car ahead of me, but I would also have lost a bit more in the corners.”
Norris was quick to urge caution about his chances in the race, however. Despite finishing P5 last time out in Spielberg, he came in a full lap down on Verstappen and Hamilton as the pair duelled in a league of their own out in front.
“I think in the first few corners we have a chance, just like last weekend, to do something and gain a place,” Norris added.
“I want to be positive and say we can have an awesome race, but I know it won’t be incredible – we are just not as quick as them.
“Maybe today we are, with low fuel and new tyres, but also our car is simply not as quick as their car. That’s why they are able to be so much quicker in the race than we are.
“We have a worse car but I’m still P2, so I’m happy with my job.”
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