Pitting five times before McLaren finally retired his car, Lando Norris says the biggest positive from the Bahrain Grand Prix is that his mechanics got a “lot of pit stop practice”.
But he insists McLaren’s situation is not as gloomy as it’s being billed by those on the outside.
After a difficult time in pre-season testing, Norris qualified 11th for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, the Briton looking forward to fighting for points.
But even though he completed 55 of the 57 laps his race was over at Turn 1 on the opening lap.
Norris made a few positions off the line only to realise something wasn’t right with his MCL60. That turned out to be a pneumatic problem with the driver pitting five times for McLaren to top him up.
“Good start, good launch, made up a few positions and then we had problems from Turn 1 basically – pneumatic problems and various other issues,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com.
“That just brought out us of the race more and more, we had to pit every ten laps and that was it.”
The driver, though, has no idea what the actual problem was.
“I don’t know enough to be honest, better to ask Andrea [Stella],” he said. “I don’t know what it was affecting, gearbox, engine. I have no idea.
“On the second pit stop he said I had to come back in, he said every 10 laps.”
Norris’ final stop was to park his car in the McLaren garage, the team eventually calling time on what was a trying Sunday with two laps to go.
But it wasn’t without some positives insists the driver.
“I think the best thing is the mechanics did a lot of pit stop practices,” he said. “That’s the biggest positive.
“I think the pace was ok-ish and we could have scored a point today at least so a shame we had the problems we did.”
Race: Max Verstappen untouchable but the Bahrain GP was the Fernando Alonso show
Fernando Alonso’s wind tunnel prediction that will worry Mercedes and Ferrari
Two race weekends in 2023 set aside for additional revised qualifying format
Norris’ sixth trip into the pits brought to an end a grand prix weekend in which neither McLaren saw the chequered flag, Oscar Piastri the first to retire.
But while that adds to a gloomy picture for McLaren, at least from the outside, Norris is adamant it’s not as bad as it everyone was expecting.
In fact he believes his McLaren has the pace to be a points-scoring car and hopes to prove that come the next race, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
“For sure, after they knew I had to box every ten laps we still stayed in it, that’s why they only retired me with two laps to go,” he added.
“And yeah I think we’ve scored points in the past in Jeddah and there’s no reason we couldn’t have scored points today and that continues.
“We’re obviously still believe we can still score points with the car we have which makes us more optimistic for the season.
“Like I said, we should have scored points today. I don’t know what Oscar had, if it was the same thing. We didn’t see anything in testing.
“I don’t know the ins and outs and what happened but it’s not as bad as everyone expected before the season. It’s not as bad as everyone was expecting. Like I said we should have scored points today, simple as that.”