McLaren’s Lando Norris is aiming to hang on “for dear life” after qualifying surprisingly close to the front of the pack in Spain.
Norris qualified a season-best third place on Saturday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, after the McLaren driver popped in a late time to challenge for the front row – ultimately losing out to Carlos Sainz and the dominant Max Verstappen.
It was an unexpected result for McLaren, who made the most of mistakes from Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes to capitalise upon the absence of Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, and George Russell to claim third-place on the grid.
But single-lap pace doesn’t always transfer to race pace on Sunday, and Norris said the Grand Prix is likely to be quite a challenge to hold onto a top position.
“It’s really just hold on for dear life,” he said on Sky F1, when asked about his target for the race.
“Top 10. We’ll see. We didn’t expect to be so good today. If I made one little mistake, I was what? Four, five, six positions back almost.
“So I’ll be careful when it says like we were exceptional today or we were amazing today because, in the end, there’s always little things in driving. Maybe someone made a one-tenth mistake, and then it was five or six drivers split by just over a tenth and a half.
“So yeah, I’ll give myself some some credit – a little bit of credit – but, at the same time, that can easily turn around tomorrow in terms of extra race pace.
“Red Bull always take a step forward come Sunday, Aston are always incredible on Sunday race pace.
“I wouldn’t say it’s our strongest area. But, yeah, hopefully it’s just another surprise like today and we’ll see.”
Zak Brown: We’re further ahead than we anticipated
With Oscar Piastri also making it into Q3 and starting P10 for his first Spanish Grand Prix, team boss Zak Brown said he almost felt greedy about how their day had played out.
“It’s funny how greedy you get, because I think we could have been even a little further forward with Oscar,” he said.
“He had a great run as well. But we’ll take it. We’re pleased.”
With Norris having claimed a third-place grid slot, Brown said the up-and-down form shown by the teams is indicative of the sport’s competitiveness as the regulations begin to mature in their second season.
“I think we’re definitely further ahead than we anticipated,” he said.
“I think it shows how close Formula 1 is now. We’re almost routinely having teams that are in Q3 and, the next week, they’re Q1, and vice versa.
“So I think that’s exciting for the future of F1 as the rules settle down and our car, I think, likes the cooler temperatures. So hopefully, this weather will transfer over to tomorrow.”