Lando Norris’ brutal assessment after dull Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris, McLaren, in Baku paddock. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Lando Norris, McLaren, pictured in the Baku paddock. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

The Azerbaijan GP felt very long for a rather stuck Lando Norris, who was ready for the end even before the halfway point.

A P9 finish and two points was certainly not a bad result for Norris in Baku, if anything, that was a strong showing for McLaren considering their tricky start to the campaign, though it was a grind for Norris to reach the chequered flag.

Norris was one of the drivers to be caught out by an early appearance from the Safety Car, Nyck de Vries crashing out shortly after Norris had stopped, though he felt that made little difference to his race in actual fact.

Trying to find a way past Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon ahead who did not stop at the time, Norris triggered arguably the greatest cheers of a dull race when he finally made the pass on Hulkenberg with overtaking at a premium.

Both Hulkenberg and Ocon went on to make their mandatory pit stops as Norris crossed the line P9 to end a race which he was very glad to see the back of.

“Long race, like 20 laps in I was hoping that was the end already,” he reflected as he spoke to Sky Sports F1.

“We were just unlucky, the Safety Car came out a lap after we boxed, so we didn’t really lose out in actual positions, we just lost out to the two cars Hulkenberg and Ocon, but they had to stop still, so probably didn’t make much of a difference.

“But in terms of just going out, I guess maybe I probably would have been in no man’s land if I was ahead of them, because the rest of the guys would have cleared off.

“So in a bit of a race of our own in terms of pace I would say, but a couple of points, best we could have asked for today so I have to be happy with that.” recommends

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Norris confirmed that straight-line speed continues to be a problem for the McLaren team, and since they do not have the ability to make up for that through the corners, it was making his overtaking prospects in Baku rather slim.

Nonetheless, it was encouraging for McLaren that the upgrades which they brought to Baku coincided with a move into the top 10 on merit, and Norris is hopeful that the next stop, Miami, can allow his team to unlock more from those modifications.

“Straight-line speed we’re still pretty shocking, which makes overtaking on a day like today near on impossible,” said Norris.

“And it’s not like we have a lot more downforce in the corners to catch up and then slow on the straights, we’re just same in the corners and slow on the straights.

“So it’s a tough battle on days like today and probably Miami will be something similar, but it’s a new track, some of the updates we can look into and understand and maybe try to improve on a little bit, and the updates should work a little bit better there than it did here even.”

Like his Baku finishing position, Norris finds himself P9 in the Drivers’ Championship after the fourth round of action in F1 2023, while McLaren are now 48 points behind Ferrari who hold P4 in the Constructors’ Championship.