McLaren’s start ‘better than expected’ in Qatar

Henry Valantine
Lando Norris drives in practice in Qatar. November 2021.

Lando Norris has his DRS open on the start/finish straight in practice. Qatar November 2021.

After a couple of off-colour weekends, Lando Norris says he feels encouraged by the pace his McLaren showed in practice in Qatar.

Having ranked 10th in first practice on limited running compared to his rivals after suffering damage on the kerbs, Norris managed to go P5 in FP2 on his qualifying simulation runs, having found improvements within his MCL35M between the sessions.

He admitted that he thought the team would have more issues than they eventually found on Friday, which he said allowed him to focus on progressing and added that he’s looking forward to the remainder of the weekend.

“I think it was a decent day. We definitely started off on the right foot, with the car balance and so on,” Norris said after practice, quoted on

“I think we thought we’d come here with a few more problems than what we did, just because of the track type and the type of corners we have.

“But I think we started off better than we thought, and then we’ve just made the standard progress from there.

“So definitely a good start to the weekend, a good day today, pace looks pretty reasonable, so looking forward to tomorrow.”

The high-speed Losail International Circuit has been widely enjoyed by the drivers so far, with its corners providing a difficult challenge while allowing the cars to push their limits throughout the lap.

But having suffered that damage to his car in FP1, Norris added that any slight change in the wind direction could prove to be a tough obstacle for the drivers to face in the Qatari desert.

“The wind makes it very tricky – it’s pretty windy. At the speeds you do, one little gust of wind or something can make a huge difference,” said the 22-year-old.


“And then the exit kerbs, these are normal FIA exit kerbs we have here, but it can damage the car quite easily, like it did for me this morning, and also again in FP2, and also for others.

“It can be quite costly, so it’s tricky to get right but more because of the wind than anything else, to be honest.”

Norris and McLaren have now dropped 31.5 points behind Ferrari in the race for third in the Constructors’ Championship, with the Briton having taken the team’s only point in Brazil last time out, while Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished comfortably ahead in P5 and P6 at Interlagos.


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